Well finally we fans have something to cheer about. From the start I had a good feeling about Roger today. In the end the second set was closer than was necessary, but all is well that ends well. Federer broke in the second and eighth games of the first set, outplaying Becker in the process. As we are so used to seeing, Federer had more difficulty in the second set, but than again Becker was playing very well. Both players’ serve kept them in the second set. Roger had a break point at 4-3 on Becker’s serve, but Becker came up with an ace. However, Roger would get a match point at 6-5 on Becker’s serve, and missed the easiest of forehand put-aways. For the first time I was worried. Was this the same Federer we saw in Indian Wells, squandering match points left and right? They would enter a tie break and pretty soon Becker would get the mini break.
Thankfully Roger got the break back after Becker could not handle a cross court passing shot from him. At 3-3 in a moment of genius, with Roger hitting a backhand return winner on the stretch off a fast first serve from Becker, he got the mini break to go up 4-3. He held serve on the next two points for a 6-3 lead. On the second match point Becker served a nonreturnable serve, and on the third match point Roger finally got the win after a long rally, with Becker unable to find the court with a backhand down the line pass. In the end it was an encouraging performance because Roger looked more like his normal confident self. The serve was key as always when he plays well. I also enjoyed the times he approached the net, and the drop shot looks like it’s going to be an important weapon for him if he is to do well in Madrid and Paris.
“There was a lot of good serving but today was important to play a clean match and that is what I was able to do,” said Federer. “I served solidly, I returned great and that combination is tough for the opponent. I could have made it a bit easier for myself in the second set I had some chances but that´s the sort of stuff I´ve got to get through and it was important for me to win the break and close it out.”
Federer won’t be in action tomorrow, as he awaits the winner of his countryman Wawrinka and Leonardo Mayer. I don’t want to get too excited, but I have a good feeling for Roger in Madrid. It won’t get any easier for him, but if he can win a few more matches it should be enough preparation for him to go to Paris with confidence. Who knows, he could even surprise us again and win the title like he did last year. I wouldn’t leave that out of the question with some of the play we’ve seen from him today. I think he really likes the conditions in Madrid which could give him the added incentive to do really well here. But for now I think the best is just to take it match for match and enjoy any good things that comes the GOAT’s way.