Masters Cup RR: Federer Gets Off to Winning Start Against Tsonga 6-2, 2-6, 6-4

Needless to say, that was not exactly Roger’s best level. But in the end I feel pretty good about this match. Roger needed to win today, and that is what he did. In the end winning is what really matters, and playing beautifully is a kind of bonus. Roger wasn’t really feeling it out there against Tsonga. In the first set it looked pretty decent, but Tsonga’s level also had something to do with it. Roger broke serve twice and it looked like it may be another straight set victory. In the second set the unforced errors piled up for Roger as he got broken in the third game after two uncharacteristic forehand errors. Federror was rearing his ugly head for the first time in a while. Tsonga broke once more and took the second set 6-2. In the third set it was basically average tennis from both players, until the tenth game when Tsonga played a loose game.

He missed and easy volley on the first point which should have been a winner, and on the second he served a double fault. On the third point he missed his first serve and Roger took advantage with a forehand winner. Then it was pretty much all over. Roger converted the second match point to get his campaign off to a winning start. So in the end it was a pretty average performance. The first set was above average as Roger made 74% first serves. The second set was below average when Federror showed up, and the final said was just average. Overall Roger made 66% first serves which is good, but he made more unforced errors than winners. It was not a great match because it was lost rather than won.

Tsonga gave Roger an opening in the third set and he took advantage. At least he did that much. It doesn’t always have to be spectacular. Some days you just have to wait for your opponent to falter to get the W. That is also the advantage of being in the winning habit. Even when you are struggling you find ways to win. The win over Tsonga in the Paris final may just have been what gave Roger the edge here. It didn’t really look like Tsonga believed he could win. Roger will now play against his nemesis Nadal, who beat Fish 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(3). It wasn’t anything spectacular either, but in the end Nadal’s mental fortitude was enough to get the W. Nadal did look rusty though as expected. The fact that Roger was not in JesusFed mode against Tsonga was not a bad thing. It is better he saves JesusFed for when he really needs it, for instance against Nadal.

I said Nadal is Roger’s nemesis, but that isn’t the case indoors. Indoors Roger is 3-0 against Nadal, while he is 8-17 overall. If only they played as much indoors as they did on clay, this rivalry would have been very different. Anyway this is one of those Fedal matches which Roger really needs to win. He has lost the last three, and if loses this one he becomes Nadal’s turkey(10+ differential in head-to-head). If that happens the ownage becomes really bad. Certainly 17-9 looks much better than 18-8. I never thought the ownage was as bad as the Nadal freaks like to believe, just because they met so many times on clay. Therefor it is important to me that Roger wins this match. It would just emphasize my point that this head-to-head is skewed because they played 14 out of their 25 meetings on Nadal’s favorite surface and Roger’s worst surface.

In terms of speed of surface, clay is at the one extreme of the spectrum and indoor would be at the other end of the spectrum. You could have said that grass is also the opposite of clay, but not the grass they play on these days. These days the grass has been slowed down, but the main difference is the height of the bounce, which is almost like clay. The opposite of clay would be a fast, low bouncing surface, and the Masters Cup comes more or less the closest to that these days. It also happens to be Roger’s favorite surface, and Nadal’s worst. So if Roger can keep winning indoors it becomes more and more obvious that the head-to-head is skewed because of clay. I don’t want to build this match up too much. This is after all just a round robin match. But I would love for Roger to win this. I love his chances too.

He needs to improve from the Tsonga match though. If he is going to win this event he has to do that anyway. Last year he played Nadal in the final when Nadal was riding a wave of confidence. This year Nadal has been beaten down by Djokovic and he comes off a long break as well, while Roger has been in great form of late. So really if there was ever a time he should beat Nadal it is on Tuesday. Fedal matches can be depressing for Fedfans, but this one I’m looking forward to.

Highlights:

Presserhttp://www.atpworldtour.com/Tennis/Media/Videos/2011/11-Finals/Sunday-20/London-2011-Finals-Sunday-Press-Conference-Federer.aspx

Roger Federer


Posted in Uncategorized.

28 Comments

  1. Cant wait for Tuesday match, I think Fed surely has an edge there may be 70-30 in my opinion, but its scheduled at 8:00 pm :-( that will be my 2:30 early in the morning :-(

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    Muhammad Reply:

    It will be 4 am at my place suhas but we can not afford to miss it…can we? :-P

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    Suhas Reply:

    Exactly.. will miss my sleep but not a Fedal match :D

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  2. Certainly not one for the highlight reel. The ending was abrupt and anticlimactic and there was much sloppy play from both sides. Both men were just getting used to the court conditions and feeling their way into the tournament, and Tsonga probably wasn’t as fired up without the French fans behind him.

    But as we’ve observed, these days Federer’s bound to have at least one off-match during a tournament and the important thing is that he won.

    Last year he also played only so-so in his first match, but he had the luck of drawing Ferrer. He can pretty much break Ferrer’s serve at will and the Spaniard hasn’t got any real weapons to hurt him, so he won in straights. This time he didn’t have that luxury.

    Sadly Fish fell victim to Nadal, as I predicted, despite having the lead in the third set. Though he played some great tennis, he simply couldn’t make enough forehands to penetrate Nadal’s defense with any consistency. In that, he’s in good company, for Federer (and everyone else) often has the same problem.

    Typically, Nadal made Fish wait for him in the third set while he went off-court to deal with some kind of “stomach illness.” I predict the illness will vanish with astonishing swiftness come Tuesday and a full recovery to top form by the semis. But if it is a Djokovic-Nadal semi, I expect the world #1 to prevail.

    The Fedal will be a slightly different dynamic from last year because it isn’t the final. I don’t think it will have quite the same urgency and intensity, but hopefully Federer will rise to the occasion. No matter the round where they meet, he can’t beat Nadal unless he produces his best tennis. Federer is well aware of this, so I expect a much better performance on Tuesday.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Good comment Steve. I expect Roger to raise his game against Nadal. The Tsonga match was his off match.

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    booya719 Reply:

    I didn’t have the feeling Fish would ever win the match even when he was up a break. His aggressive play was keeping him in it but it was just too erratic to hold the lead and it was clear Nadal would find a way to win. Nadal should have won 6-4 and Fish was lucky to win a lot of his games in the 3rd set. The good news is that Federer can raise his game and be able to make controlled winners here, where as Fish’s winners were pretty uncontrolled and were the result of just going for broke and hoping it lands in. Federer’s skill and shotmaking is amplified on this court and can hopefully trump Nadal’s defense once again for a 4th time.

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  3. Good write-up. Those are my thoughts exactly. I agree that the Nadal match is a match Federer needs to win to get the H2H more respectable.

    About Nadal’s match with Fish, as far as I could tell Nadal was playing at his best level against Fish and Nadal’s serving was pretty good or as good as it’s ever been on hard courts. Nadal was cruising in the 1st set and Fish was not in any of Nadal’s service games. 2nd set Fish started going for broke on everything and it was somewhat of a crazy 2nd set. Fish had lot of break points in the 2nd but had some bad luck converting them but he was able to find a way finally and convert 1 break point and win the set.

    The 3rd set was a bit crazy and both men broke each other twice. Fish kept on going for broke and was able to serve well towards the end of the 3rd set. He saved a few match points at 4-5 before losing in a breaker. The outcome was never really in doubt but Fish was able to stay in the match for longer than he should have with some aggressive play and going for broke on just about everything.

    I reckon if Federer serves well and makes his shots he should be able to beat Nadal again here. Good serving, controlled aggression, and convert the breakpoint(s). The key for Federer will be to serve well and be patient in finding a way to break Nadal. Even one breakpoint can win him a set if he converts it and serves well himself. I don’t like Federer’s chances in tiebreaks against Nadal so I really hope Federer can get two breaks and end the sets 6-3, 6-4.

    The tournament won’t be won or lost in the 2nd round robin match given that both men are 1-0 and should both make the SF regardless of the result but this is Federer’s best shot at making the H2H more respectable. He could bring it to 17-10 with a win over Nadal in the RR and another win over him in the final. Federer at 5-0 on fast indoor vs Nadal would really prove the argument once and for all how badly the H2H is skewed for clay and that there really is no “ownage.” It’s simply a match-up in which surface plays a huge role.

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  4. In this match Fed exactly did what he had to do. I am happy that he didn’t allow the second set to get into his head going into the third set. He stayed focused and concentrated on holding his own serve while waiting for the slightest hint of opportunities against Tsonga; fortunately it arrived just at the right moment in the 10th game. This is what the momentum of winning a few matches can do! This match also proves that one just cannot always “muscle” out their opponents with brute power like Tsonga tries every now and then against Fed; technique and finesse have to prevail in the long run. That’s why I believe that Fed’s day will come soon against the Djoker also, he simply cannot win all the time against Fed using those freaky shots as he did in USO in 2010 and more recently in 2011.

    Though Fed was not as clinical as his fans wish him to be in this match, I can still live another day just to watch those couple of wonderful backhand flicks from such awkward positions that he made against Tsonga. Only the Federer genius can do it, nobody else in the earth!

    GO ROGER GO!

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  5. Wasn´t always easy, wasn´t always pretty but he came through and stepped it up just when he needed too.
    I hope Roger will remember last year´s final performance vs. RN.and secure his SF.place without worrying about RR3.Apart from the stomach/gas/throwing up issues RF. really seemed exausted in the 3rd. set.No excuses.
    Hope we experience one great competitive match on
    Tuesday.The Beauty and the Beast.The Beauty will prevail. GO ROGER, we are all behind you!!!

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    ines Reply:

    Sorry I mean” RN.seemed exhausted”.

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  6. 2 big difference in Fed since he came back from 6 weeks break : he doesn’t check out completely and he steps it up. I like his win against Tsonga despite not playing his best because he found a way to win and it’s the win that matters : not being pretty, not being AWOL for long periods, not too arrogant to think he can beat other players at their own game, not disinterested. Fed has the game to beat anybody any day. It’s all in his attitude. When attitude is good, he plays flawless tennis or finds a way to win. If his attitude stays this way, I’m confident he will beat Nadal. It’s interesting to see how this rejuvenated Fed will handle Nadal being “in his head” (re French Open final). He must overcome his demons especially now being presented with the perfect court and a winning streak on his side to carve us some Spanish bull meat. Enjoyed your last 3 posts, Ru-an, well done! Lol! “Murray couldn’t make it out of bed”! Have plenty to say about Murray v Fed war fare but as Balthazar and you have agreed, “Enough of Murray crap, let’s get on with tennis”! Allez Roger!

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    Manu Reply:

    True. After all, it’s Roger’s mental toughness that won him the FO.

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  7. Its good that Roger started his off-day against Tsonga. By now he would have shaken off his Basel/Bercy hangover and focus on Nadal come this Tuesday. I think 2nd match against Nadal will work in Roger’s favor since Nadal will still be rusty and out of sorts.

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  8. In the third set, Roger made me feel very uncomfortable and nervous. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s level in general and especially his serving level went really up and down in the decider, as a result of which Roger got some breakpoints earlier on in the set. But Roger failed to convert them unfortenately by not being sharp enough himself and playing mediocre. The outcome of the match seemed unsure for both players until Jo-WIlfried dTsonga unexpectedly handed Roger the win on a plate in the tenth game by choking badly when serving to stay in the match.
    Roger will have to play a lot better and more consistent against Rafael Nadal, because Rafa won’t give him the win on a plate, regardless of his form. I hope Roger will play at or above par and give us a reason to celebrate. Another victory against Rafa is absolutely necessary if Roger wants to stand a fair chance in the majors next year.

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  9. Nadal did not impress me. In the 2 and 3 set he looked completely finished (some kind of stomach problems?)

    I don’t want to criticize Fish too much but it seems that the longline shot is missing in his arsenal. Most of the times Nadal was way too short with his moonballs. At times both players moonballed in the ralleys.

    Nadal was definitely beatable today. His serve was pretty slow too. Hardly above 120mph. On average below 110mph I think.

    Finally it has to be stated: Get Nadal’s scalp, Roger!

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  10. I’m slightly surprised at the comments here that Federer “has to” beat Nadal on Tuesday. I think game will be one of their least important matches ever.
    Firstly both players have won their first match (meaning incidentally that at least one of them qualifies for the semi-finals). Both players will be aware that irrespective of the outcome on Tuesday both will probably qualify by winning their matches on Thursday.
    I’m sure they both want to make qualification more likely, and would want to win, but realistically they are just battling over who wins the group, which is pretty meaningless.
    Further it is interesting to note that both Rafa and Roger are unwell (according to the commentary here in the UK). Rafa has food poisoning/stomach bug and he looked quite pale towards the end of his match. Roger also has a cold, and that can be draining. He was fortunate I think that Tsonga started off SO badly.
    Anyway, whilst we all want Roger to beat Rafa on Tuesday, he’s done the important bit already – beating Tsonga.
    Now if Roger and Rafa meet on Sunday – THAT will be an important and interesting game.

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  11. I think the favourites for the tournie is now Federer with maybe Nadal as 2nd, after his hard fought victory over Fish. I think group A might have no title contenders, Murray and Novak are injured. Murray lost to Ferrer with a reported groin injury, watched the match he could not move as well as he can. There are question marks over Djokovic shoulder, so Berdych and Ferrer could qualify from group A, so I think Fed has a great chance to win this tournament for a record 6th time.

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    booya719 Reply:

    Yep I agree with you. If Tsonga were in Group A I really see him being a semi finalist. I feel sorry for Tsonga most of anyone having to play in the tough pool against a rested and fit Nadal and a hot Federer. As mentioned before Nadal vs Federer is the most likely final. Whoever they play in the semis I see them both winning, no matter who gets in there and in what position from Group A.

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  12. Maybe a little bit against the odds, but the spanish players won both their RR1 match. It sure starts looking like this Spanish Armada will be hard to stop in this 2011 edition of the MAsters Cup as Spain is the only country with two players competing in the event, and even Andy Murray, who yet was playing for his home crowd, couldn’t stop the one considered as the weakest of them two.
    I feel really sorry for Andy Murray. He must feel terrible after this loss, especially after the way he replied to Roger’s comments.

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    booya719 Reply:

    Before the pools were even made I just could not see Ferrer being able to trouble any of the other guys on this surface but he has really proven me wrong with a win over Murray. I thought surely Ferrer would be 0-3 like he was last year. Ferrer at 1-0 really makes it interesting and it’s nice for him to be drawn into the weaker pool where he can throw a wrench into the SF scenarios with a win. I would still be very surprised if he makes the SF himself though. Murray really dug deep this time to find a way to lose and put himself behind the 8 ball.

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  13. ruan really fantastic post. written like a true fedfan.
    also enjoyed reading all the comments.
    the level of play at this tournament so far is pretty law.
    these rumors about fed being ill bother me. thats why i was troubled this past week when i read on fc about fed running around switzerland instead of getting some rest…
    i am always worried b4 fedal matches. if there is a dark stain on feds career it is this matchup vs rafa. it is though for fed to beat him on any surface. also i saw on the nadal-fish match that the ball was bouncing very high as oppose to what i was expecting. and needless to say that nadal is in **federers head, under his skin and up his backhand**
    what drives me mad when i look at their h2h is the fact that in so many matches fed was WAY BETTER and still managed to lose. just a few examples: rome 06, hamburg 08, wimby 08, ao 09, this years RG…
    i hope that fed is healthy and motivated and i hope he wins!!!
    3 parameters he will have to excel in to win: 1 – serve 2 – min errors especially on BH side 3 – converting BP.
    plz rog i know this match is not the most important one you’ve played vs nadal but make us happy and proud ! win this one for us :-)

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  14. Wilfried, there’s no reason to feel sorry for Andy Murray—he does that well enough for himself…. As for the Tsonga match, I almost prefer that Roger won ugly instead of elegantly. He needs to grow more confident with his B-game, like in his younger days. This will relieve a lot of pressure for him, and allow his A-game to emerge naturally, almost effortlessly. The Zone is so much easier to reach when you have a solid belief in your most prosaic skill set.

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    booya719 Reply:

    Not that I feel sorry for him, but indeed his chances are VERY slim at the moment. Murray will be in tough now to even make the semis at all due to his straight sets loss to Ferrer. Murray has to win both of his matches now over Berdych and Djokovic to stand any sniff of getting in with a 2-1 record.
    The only way Murray gets in now is for:
    Murray 2-1 (loses to Ferrer, beats Djokovic and Berdych)
    Djokovic 2-1 (loses to Murray, beats Berdych and Ferrer)
    Ferrer 1-2 (beats Murray, loses to Berdych and Djokovic)
    Berdych 1-2 (beats Ferrer, loses to Djokovic and Murray)
    I don’t see Murray beating both Berdych and Djokovic both, but Group A is the more interesting and unpredictable pool however. Where as in Federer’s pool we pretty much already knew Federer and Nadal would both be making the semis, the question is who will be 3-0 and who will be 2-1? The Federer vs Nadal match will most likely be a preview of the final. Djokovic is really struggling and is clearly not 100%. His level today was not good enough to win vs either a Nadal or a Federer.

    But tennis matches start 0-0 for a reason and I’ve been proven wrong on many occasions. This is one of the better and more interesting World Tour Finals from recent years.

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    Veronica Lee Reply:

    Well said, Balthazar, that’s what I was trying to say : Fed needs to be confident in his B-game so it was very encouraging and it meant more to me to see him win with his B game against Tsonga (of course with a little help from Tsonga)than if he had won it easily. Fed has to “grow” his B game. Djoko is extremely good (and Nadal to a lesser extent) with his B, even C game. That’s why it is very very difficult to beat Djoko. Fed has to “embrace” his less than perfect days and stay focused, patient and crafty to work out a win. Djoko doesn’t look his best today but I never underestimate him; he may not know a lot of things but he sure knows how to get the W.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Right. No need to feel sorry for that arrogant choker. There are 16000 children dying in Africa from starvation every day.

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  15. My apology as I can’t help but to bring up the Murray crap again. After all the talks, he just can’t walk them after all, injury or not. Ru-an is spot-on on Murray’s mental fortitude. Even Henman pointed in out in his comments after the match:

    “We certainly don’t question Andy’s ability when he’s playing well and when things are going well, but it’s all about dealing with adversity and certainly, for me, there was too much dialogue going back and forth from him to his box. I just don’t think that gives him the best environment to concentrate on the next point.”

    Link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/tennis/15829573.stm?

    Back to Roger. I am really looking forward to the Fedal match later, as i fully agree with all the views here regarding the implication of a 4-0 / 5-0 h2h on indoor hard. Let’s hope Roger raises his game, and more importantly, his belief in his ability to beat Nadal.

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  16. Ahem, not wanting to rain on Ferrer’s parade after his straight-sets defeat of Murray but I was reminded of former French Open champion Yannick Noah’s comments a few days back about Spanish sportsmen and doping.

    “One question keeps coming back to me : how can a nation dominate virtually overnight the sport in such a way ? Did they discover some avant-garde techniques or training facilities that nobody before them had imagined?”

    Ferrer and Nadal are furious but Noah’s comments have reinforced the questions in a lot of people’s minds about Spanish sport and are generating a lot of discussion in the tennis world, with the latest comments coming from Le Monde. An interesting little backdrop to the World Tour Finals.

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