Masters Cup RR: Federer def Ferrer 6-4, 7-6(5)

As I thought Roger beat Ferrer in straight sets and the head-to-head record now stands at 14-0. It’s quite amazing the head-to-head record Roger has with some of the top players. Taking into account that Ferrer never gives up and fights for every point, it’s pretty astonishing that Roger has such a head-to-head record over him. It’s obvious to me that Ferrer has a mental block against Roger. Judging from what I’ve read and the match stats Roger was far from his best, but still beat Ferrer in straight sets. Ferrer just doesn’t have anything to hurt Roger with. Roger made only 53% first serves and his unforced errors outnumbered his winners by 39-28.

The first serve percentage has now been a problem since Shanghai. It is a sign of lack of confidence to me. When Roger is confident he makes a high percentage of first serves and that makes him very difficult to beat. It’s harder for me to make an analysis when I can only watch the highlights of Roger’s matches. I thought the win over Tipsarevic was a good sign for his title chances. But after the Ferrer match I am not so confident anymore. It seems to me Roger is still burnt out. I don’t believe he is going to win the Masters Cup anymore. You can never count him out, but he is not the favorite to me anymore.

The favorite to me at this point is Djokovic, who beat Murray 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 in their round robin match yesterday. This result also showed that Djokovic is the mentally stronger player between him and Murray. He now leads the head-to-head with Murray 10-7, and I think he will end up winning the head-to-head. The other match that was played yesterday was between Berdych and Tsonga and Berdych won that in three sets. In group B today the other match was between Del Potro and Tipsarevic, with Del Potro winning that 6-0, 6-4. It looks like Tipsarevic will be the whipping boy of group B and end up losing all his matches.

The interesting match that is now left in group B is the one between Roger and Del Potro. Del Potro needs to win to have a chance of qualifying for the semis if Ferrer beat Tipsarevic, which you would expect. Roger needs a good performance against Del Potro after the Ferrer match. He did just what was needed against Ferrer and must show that he can raise his game and put that Basel final loss behind him. His title chances in London may depend on the result against Del Potro. Not in terms of qualifying for the semis, but in terms of showing that his confidence is high enough to go all the way.

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13 Comments

  1. Not good. Two consecutive matches with barely 50% 1st serve. Against Ferrer only 40% 1st serve in the first set. It won’t be enough in the next rounds.

    It’s obvious Ferrer has a mental problem against the top players. He had all the reasons to win today. Federer was way off his best.
    But nothing surprises me about Ferrer after his performance against Nadal in the FO2012 semis. Ferrer played amazing tennis all the way to the semis with win over Murray in the quarters. Nadal wasn’t outstanding. And still the result was 6-2, 6-2, 6-1. It was pretty disgusting.

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  2. It was one of the worst matches I have ever seen Federer play. In fact it was one of the worst matches that I have ever seen! Federer was horrible and tried his best to gift David the match and yet he could not win! Good thing Federer played in the “pillow fight” group and not the group of death. There is no way he could have even qualified for the semis playing so poorly. I think Federer loses at the semis this year and we will see another Djokoray final. They are both playing ridiculously good tennis at the moment, clearly a level above the rest of the field.
    Very impressed with Murray’s progress, especially on his FH. He has so much power on his FH and it can get streaky, but when he is on, he is really going to hurt you. There are patches when he is simply unplayable. I think he is going to have a big year next season and probably be number one at some point.

    Very disappointed by Del Potro. He is playing very poorly. His service is very poor for his height and he constantly gets into trouble in his own service games. His serve rarely touches 130mph, which could give him so many free points. Hope he puts in some work in the off season. An aggressive Delpotro is a force of nature and such a joy to watch!

    Nadal is going to struggle till he reaches clay season and I think he could drop to number 5 before the French open. Even if he is number 4, he may have to face Djokovic in the semis.

    Hopefully, the likes of Raonic, Jerry will shake up the field more next year!

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    rich Reply:

    I had to laugh at your comment that Roger tried to gift Ferrer that match but he wouldn’t take it. That’s about it. It was a pretty atrocious match by Roger. I agree with Ruan that Roger isn’t the favorite to win here – he does seem burned out, and his form is very patchy. The shanked backhands and badly missed serves against Ferrer became painful to watch.

    I also agree that Del Potro hasn’t looked good either. On his recent performances at O2 I can’t see how he was able to play the kind of tennis that saw him beat Roger in the Basel final.

    The final will probably come down to Djokovic and Murray. Even though Djokovic has beaten Murray twice recently, and is clearly mentally stronger, I don’t think he is at the level he was at last year, when he went on that incredible streak. He could hardly miss. Funnily enough, Murray has seemed the stronger player lately – his power has really gone up, and his retrieving is ever more incredible – but he keeps blowing the big points. I am not altogether surprised, with the childish petulant attitude he continues to demonstrate on court. He is no ambassador for the sport.

    The question for Roger at this tournament is whether he can play not just one but two more great matches. I somehow feel, on his present form, that even if he wants it he won’t be able to do it this year.

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  3. Hi,
    I think Ferrer played a good match. His defense and returning were astonishing. Maybe the courts are slow as hell and Federer’s groundstrokes lacked some power but still Ferrer deserved some credit for fighting and playing some great returns.
    Federer played a fantastic return game as 5:4 in the first and served great in the tiebreak to win it. He made some unforced but so did Ferrer. I think they came from the fact that neither player could hit regular baseline winners so all rallies ended with an error :-) .

    Can Roger win this event? I think it depends on Murray’s and Djokovic’s performances. If they serve and return well it will be hard for Federer to prevail. I wouldn’t count Delpo out if he is able to qualify (slim chances. He needs a clear two set win against Roger and Ferrer a close match against Tipsa). At least he will give Federer a tough match.

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  4. Give Ferrer some credit for the closeness of the result. He’s playing the best tennis of his life right now.

    Mental block against the best? He’s beaten Nadal (including twice in Grand Slams), Djokovic (on this very court), and Murray. He’s amply demonstrated his mental toughness against the very top players.

    But even on a bad day, Federer had enough variety to squeak by. He just has too many tricks in his bag for Ferrer to deal with.

    His serving was up and down, but when he really needed it in the tiebreak he landed five straight first serves, including two aces and two service winners. Against a returner of Ferrer’s caliber that is pretty tough to do.

    He wasn’t able to produce a masterclass, but he did what he had to do: win. Now he can concentrate on playing a good match without worrying about qualifying for the knockout rounds.

    I agree that it’s hard to assess his form, given that Tipsarevic was apparently under the weather. I dunno what shape Federer’s game will be in tomorrow. If he can straight-set Del Potro, it will augur well for the semis (presumably where he will meet Murray).

    The great difficulty is that he’ll have to play three days straight in order to win the title.

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    TD Reply:

    I am sorry Steve but I still think Ferrer hasn’t broken the #5 ranking ceiling for a reason. He beat Nadal in the AO2011 when Nadal was injured and in the US2007 before Nadal’s peak (when it wasn’t unusual for him not to reach the final in off-clay slams). He beat Djokovic last year in the WTF but we all know Djokovic’s form in the last part of last year. And beating Murray… well is it really a measure for anything?
    Don’t get me wrong, I like Ferrer as a player and he also seems like a nice guy. He’s a very good role-model. I just wish for him to get that significant win once, to take the next step, especially when he’s playing so well.

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  5. That was hardly a “poor” match from Federer. Did you see some of the shots he was hitting? It was a long, physical match, and Ferrer was playing very well. He was hitting his groundies deep and without too much pace (which Fed loves off the backhand side to counter-punch). He was 15/26 at the net and took his chances and got the first set won which was the big key. After that, he didn’t have to press as much like he was in the first set. Anyway, statistics can be deceiving, because Roger hit every shot in his arsenal and his second serve was absolutely tremendous. He was also very clutch, saving 9/10 break points, and Ferrer wasn’t giving them away – Fed had to earn them. It wasn’t a masterclass but it was hardly “one of the worst matches Federer has ever played.” He doesn’t hit the kind of shots he did when he is playing poorly.
    Anyway, to sum up my whole thoughts:
    http://leftyadvantage.blogspot.ca/2012/11/federer-battles-by-ferrer.html

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Kyle, please don’t post your link on my blog. Your blog is already linked to your comment if you put your url in and you are on my blog roll too. People can find your blog if they want to. Thanks.

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  6. Thanks very much for your posts, Ruan, I appreciate and enjoy them a lot.
    I didn’t have the privilege to see any of Roger’s matches lately but shall watch the Federer-Del Potro match today. Saw only some glimpses of the stats of the first set of the Federer-Ferrer match on Thursday and couldn’t believe my eyes: Roger’s first serve percentage was constantly at an alarmingly low 30% à 40%. Can a lack of confidence really make you lose your serve to that extent, where it has always been your strongest asset, your safe harbor in difficult times so to speak ?
    I did see the Djokovic- Murray match though, and was impressed. Djokovic is looking sharp and was able to raise his level during the match. Particularly his returning facilities are amazing. Murray looked very sharp as well in the first set, but didn’t manage to keep it consistently enough during the next two. So he lost.
    I don’t know what to expect for the semis.
    All I can say is that I hope it won’t be FIFO for Federer: first in the semis, but also first out of them.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Wilfried, I enjoy your comments too. Yes I think the low first serve % is a confidence thing. Like you say it’s his safe harbor in difficult times and it just isn’t clicking for him right now. It is his most important shot and without it he is a bit like a lost child.

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  7. Great summary Ru-an! I wasnt too convinced about Fed’s form after he destroyed Tipsy as Tipsy was clearly injured and i waited for the Ferrer match to draw a conclusion. And what a shocker that match was. I actually couldnt bring myself to watch it. Halfway through first set, I turned tv off although I recorded it. How can he play so well one day and then so badly the next? I know his patchiness happen more nowadays but still……. Like all of us said,I think Fed is burnt out this year and even if he desires to win, it looks like he won’t be able to do it with this form, as Rich said. But on the other hand I do agree with Kyle that he played with great variety and was clutch and it was great to watch although painful too. But why make life so difficult for yourself; especially against Ferrer who, although is a great and much improved player has nothing to hurt You?And why such a great struggle to get the first serves in? The serve hasn’t been working well since Shanghai although in latter stages of Basel he upped it a bit. You know what I think guys? I think Fed’s carrying some injury which is really affecting his first serve. If he is healthy, he still serves well even if he is under pressure. But the low percentage against Ferrer is just plain baffling; and its not even like Ferrer is a great returner like Djoko or Murray. I remember when he had mono 2008 at AO where he couldn’t get a first serve in against Djoko. It was so unlike him and so puzzling. Later the mono was revealed. Seeing Fed now struggling with his first seve since Shanghai, it makes me wonder. After all he did mention niggling injuries altho he doesn’t like to make a big deal out of it. Something odd I have noticed too. In Tipsy match, i think he had zero backhand shank. In Ferrer match, i swear it wasnt Fed on court! But on positive note, Fed usually plays one or two bad matches in a tournament so let’s hope that’s the bad one against Ferrer and Roger 3.0 shows up for the rest of the tournament!! Another positive is how good his second serve is. But we all know too well that a good serving day has to happen for Fed if he wants to beat the top guys. If he cannot up his first serve percentage against Delpo tomorrow, I don’t think I’m too far from the truth that there’s indeed a physical issue. Btw, have they SLOWED the courts??!! I’m really beginning to believe there is a great conspiracy to get Fed outta tennis asap! Lol!!

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  8. Well, Federer has indeed lost to Del Potro. It won’t be pretty if he plays like this against Murray, no timing and bad choices of shot on the key points.

    There is a slim chance he could meet Djokovic (Tipsarevic would have to win in order for that to happen), but that might be the more difficult proposition.

    He seemed very frustrated with his game today. Clearly he needs a longer break to refresh himself and suss out what’s wrong with his game.

    But nothing to do now but prepare for tomorrow, give his best, and hope for a little luck. It would be very tempting to tank the next match and go on vacation a little early, but that’s not how Federer operates.

    C’mon Roger!

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