Rome Rd 3: Federer def Ferrero 6-2, 5-7, 6-1

This match turned out maybe a little tougher than expected, but in the end Ferrero played really well. Roger started off in JesusFed mode and got breaks in the 6th and 8th games to win the first set. He was really spanking that forehand. In the second set Ferrero started fighting back and Roger’s level dropped just a tad. It was enough for Ferrero to get the break in the 10th game, and he won the second set after Roger hit a forehand long. Fedfans were getting nervous as usual, but I knew this was Roger 3.0 and that he doesn’t go down easily. In the second set he locked back into JesuFed mode and broke Ferrero in the second game with a cracking forehand up the line. At 4-1 after a long baseline rally Roger exploded with a backhand up the line to break Ferrero again.

There were some very nice backhand returns and backhand down the line winners in the third set. In the end Ferrero played a great match just to be able to take a set off Roger 3.0. Maybe the difference in this match compared some of Roger’s last few matches was the first serve percentage which was on the low side. I think because this is red clay and slower conditions we can expect that Roger’s first serve percentage will drop. The surface puts more pressure on his serve and therefor causes it to drop. That is my theory anyway. We will see how it plays out. In Madrid it was very high. Red clay is undoubtedly Roger’s worst surface, strange as it feels to say that with everything he has achieved on the surface.

As for Nadal it is of course his favorite surface. He has been cruising through the draw and beat a very good Berdych today in straight sets. It is hard to see him being stopped here. For Roger to beat him on this surface will be very hard indeed. Djokovic might have a better chance, although he did struggle against Monaco, coming back from a set down. Today however he made short work of Tsonga. The other semi-finalist is Ferrer, who beat Gasquet in straight sets. So Nadal will play Ferrer and I don’t see any way how he loses that. Now we are just waiting for Roger to play Seppi, who is having a great tournament by his standards after beating Wawrinka in a thriller yesterday. Stan had 5 match points I think and choked it away pretty badly.

So now Roger will come up against an Italian with his home crowd behind him. I can’t see how this will make any difference to the outcome of the match. Seppi has no weapons while Roger has weapons to spare. I expect a straight set win. The head-to-head is also 8-0, so I think we are looking at a Djokerer semi which would be very interesting indeed. I think Nadal and Djokovic is playing well again on their favorite red clay while Roger is less at home. We will see how things pan out. Roger still has business to take care of before a mouthwatering semi with Djokovic. Lets do it!

Highlights:


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19 Comments

  1. For some reason, every time when I was looking forward to a Djokerer match before (AO, Dubai, IW and Madrid) Djokovic seemed to escape and Roger was playing great.

    Today will show if Roger really wants to play him. In his post match interview he said something about taking it round by round.

    It’s as if his mind is fresh but his body isn’t. I hope I am wrong.

    We’ll see. Anyway if Roger has to play Djokovic he’ll play him. I am not as excited about that match as I would have been if they met in Madrid or in Australia but it will still be a great match.

    I just hope Roger is up for it since he has played a lot as of late.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    He will be up for it all right. He doesn’t go into a match with Djokovic without being up for it. But first Seppi.

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  2. Ruan, great Blog as usual.

    I have several concerns about Rome this week:

    1. Nadal played beastly today against Berdych and this is BAD news. The Bozo was standing 50 feet behind the baseline and still was pounding winners into the corner. I don’t see Djoker or Roger beating Nadal in this form and this pisses me off. I think Roger can take down Djoker but I can’t stand to watch another Rafa beatdown on red clay for Roger. My stomach is in knots already contemplating another beatdown from Nadull.

    2. I don’t like it that Roger is playing these ridiculously late matches. Again tonight against Seppi he won’t even be off court until 11:00 and with press commitments, he won’t be back in the hotel till 3:00 am! And Rafa gets this cakewalk scheduling when he plays first up. Rog is almost 31 and really the schedulers need to take that into consideration.

    3. If Roger does get past Nole, he will play the second semi and not finish till night again. He has less recovery for the final and he will need every shred of energy against Rafa in this form.

    So I am worried. :-(

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Worried again huh? No worries ;-)

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  3. I had no worries at all against Ferrero. Federer just seems bored from time to time and it’s hard to blame him at this point in his career. So his level drops a bit and the opponent is fighting and there goes a set. But Federer wouldn’t lose a match when he’s so much better than his opponent. It was obvious that the 3rd set would be quick. He played magnificent tennis.

    I’m glad Seppi is next. Not because Wawrinka is better than him, but because he’s playing in front of his home crowd. That will keep Federer from getting bored again…

    Nadal is a beast!

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  4. Damn, i miss that blue clay!
    The court was beautiful and so was the tennis.
    Now the court is dull, most of the tennis is painfully slow and you need eyes like a hawk to spot the ball.
    One week of blue stuff was enough to spoil me. Red clay seems so boring.
    Anyone agree?

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    Candace Reply:

    I hate red clay, always have (except French Open 2009!) And I can’t see the ball worth a damn from Rome. The camera angle is also terrible. I can’t stand watching Rafa standing so far behind the baseline to return serve. It’s so boring.

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  5. The more and more I think about it I realize that Roger should view this as an opportunity to see where he is at in comparison to Djokovic and Nadal.

    If he loses to Djokovic, he’ll get more rest and then Djokovic might beat Nadal do it would be a good thing.

    If he beats Djokovic, then he’ll get closer to him in the rankings, and he’ll have a crack at Nadal. Now, I know how difficult it is to beat Nadal on clay but again this best of three set format and it’s not absolutely impossible to beat him. Plus, Roger almost beat Nadal in Rome in 2006 so he can draw from that experience as well.

    We’ll see what happens but I think Roger has a lot of upside from facing his direct opponents here before the French Open si that he can have idea of where his level is. He is playing great tennis and he is full of confidence. Here and there are some lapses which is due to boredom or lack of motivation.

    But with the prospect of facing Djokovic and possibly Nadal back to back, Roger will definitely give it his all.

    Like I said, if he loses – it’s not the end of the world. But if he wins – the glory will be all his.

    Allez Roger!

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  6. What am I watching?! An exhibition or something?!

    LOL! Absolute demolition!!!

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    Chris Reply:

    I was not amused when some obnoxious guy from the Italian crowd called Stan Wawrinka “affangulo” just before his first match point. He and probably some other spectators should stick to attending football matches instead, where this sort of people usually gathers. I was waiting in vain for the same guy to voice his emotions to Federer, don’t know why he did not show up in this match :-)

    Federer did a nice warm up on red clay to prepare for RG. He now gets a shot at the still #1 player, that will be a much welcome reality check. I guess it will be the form of the day to decide between the two. And when it comes to winning this tournament, it is very hard to see anybody else than Nadal who has been completely unplayable again so far. Djokovic fares better chances there, because of some mental edge, but this edge is just about being lost with a general drop in confidence on the Serb’s side. So I hope Federer makes it to the final and get another chance to test and fine tune his game plan against his Nemesis. After all, beating Nadal on the red clay remains the one challenge in Tennis that Federer has not yet proven to be capable of.

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  7. Great match today :-) I felt sorry for Seppi. It was like sparing with amateur but it is good Roger saved lot of energy for tomorrow. I believe he can beat Nole but anole is always giving his best against Fed so we will see and cheer.

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  8. Ferrero is a former world #1 and French Open champion and has won the Rome title, so a close match was always a possibility.

    Federer played magnificent tennis in the first set, but lost the plot for a bit in the second. He stopped driving his backhand and started spinning it in–the tell-tale sign of trouble.

    Ferrero also started getting more aggressive and one has to say that he earned the second set. The Mosquito lived up to his nickname, zipping around and hitting stinging groundstrokes to take advantage of Federer’s lapse.

    In the last set, Federer regrouped and started attacking like he had in the first. Ferrero didn’t run out of gas, he was just thoroughly outplayed.

    Federer was hitting his backhand exceptionally well, especially down the line. That’s the riskiest groundstroke to hit because he’s going over the highest part of the net while targeting a small area of court, but it is a vital shot in his later career. When he can strike off both wings as in the first set, he’s completely unplayable.

    In the second set he tried to compensate for his wobbling backhand by hitting too many risky forehands and ended up shanking. That’s often happened against Nadal and it’s a problem he will have to address if and when he meets the Spaniard.

    Fortunately, this time he righted the ship in the third set, and by the end was firing off both sides once again.

    It’s a hard balance to strike. Against lesser opponents he can’t attack as vigorously as he would against Nadal or Djokovic, because the level of aggression that would only suffice to get those guys out of position would blow a Ferrero off the court completely and he would end up overhitting. So he has to make adjustments to each individual opponent.

    He came to net a fair amount and his returns were very aggressive, and he also used a deep, aggressive slice to wrong-foot Ferrero. On several occasions, when he had Ferrero a little off balance he played surgical drop shots, often for clean winners.

    It’s a play that will serve him well against Nadal–occasionally seeking to open up the forecourt for a drop shot (genuine all-court play), instead of always trying to open up the backcourt for a groundstroke (a pure baseline game).

    Nadal covers the backcourt very well, but if he also has to be mindful of winners being hit into the front court, his defense will be less effective and he’ll have to try to consistently take the ball early and play attacking tennis, which, as we’ve seen, results in fatal errors for him.

    This tactic requires absolutely sure touch and timing, and Federer is executing it with flair.

    All in all I think there are a lot of encouraging signs to be taken from this match despite his lapse. He’s playing much more mindfully than last year, seeking to construct points in ways he didn’t always use before. He is moving fantastically well and he’s confident with his shotmaking, his decision-making is sure and instinctive on all the crucial points. When he goes for it he is pinpointing the exact spot he wants to target with laser precision. He’s seeing the ball and the shots he wants to hit with total clarity, and hitting very cleanly.

    Despite the lapse, he started strong and finished strong; he took the win, didn’t wait for Ferrero to hand it over to him. In the third set it would have been the easiest thing for him to get lazy after the first break and save his energy to serve it out, and perhaps the Federer of 2011 would have done just that.

    Nothing doing: Ferrero was 40-15 up on his serve at 4-1, and Federer still went after it, hit some great returns, and broke after a magnificent rally with a clean backhand down the line. That is the kind of attacking mindset he needs to maintain, it’s important for his confidence to stay on the offense whenever he can. The more often he does it, the more natural it will become for him.

    On this slow clay, he knows he needs to make a deliberate effort to stay aggressive and continue to go after the ball, take it early, keep mixing up his play. As long as he does that, I see only good things in the future.

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    jarek Reply:

    I guess every player has lapses, Nadal included. Rogers seems to be a little deeper and often set long. It seemed Roger would have another one against Seppi in the second set. He seemed to come out of it very fast but then again, Seppi was never in position to make a dent in Rogers game.

    One very disturbing thing in Rogers game has been that in obvious put aways he has directed the ball toward his opponents, most often then loosing the ball. It seems his game is well understood by many players and he really is keeping his eyes on the ball.

    I really hope he will force Nadal to stay close to the base line or take advantage of the extra meters with frequent drop shots and short low slice backhands to the deuce court. I wonder if Roger has prepared any surprises for a possible match against Nadal. The FH slice disguised as a drop shot is kind of new, I think.

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    amine Reply:

    This think about Roger directing the ball toward his opponents in obvious put aways have always intregued me. I thought that he was trying to wrongfoot opponenets to often and it especially hurts with the likes of the nadal djokovic and murray. I would like to read some explanations about this matter.

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  9. Missed the Seppi match, damn, but sounds like Roger is hitting better and better, even though the Italian was probably gassed after his tough 3-setter against Stan. Nole’s game also seems to be picking up. The semi should be a great match. Fed in 3.
    Berdych disappointed against Nadal. He gets the break in the second set but you almost know he’s gonna hand it back immediately, which he does. Why the f*ck he kept approaching to Nadal’s forehand when he kept getting burned – no tennis I.Q.
    But really he stood no chance against Nadal’s power. Check out these stats: in the second set Nadal pumped down a first serve at 224K (that’s right – Roddick speed and almost 10k faster than Sampras’s best), hit a ballooning topspin forehand return-of-serve winner at 170k (that’s not even a flat ball, and is faster than many of his first serves at the AO!), was generally hitting harder than one of the heaviest ball-strikers on the tour who is also 4 inches taller, and made only 3 unforced errors while absolutely crushing the ball. This is the same guy who played and lost to Verdasco at Madrid right, with the bad knees and shoulder all year up to Miami? Must be nice to know you can dial up so much extra power for a tournament when you need it. As well as Roger and Djoko are playing, 20 bucks says no one takes a set off Nadal and maybe not until the grass and Wimbledon. And then that’s all they will get. More a freak show than tennis.

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    Caprice Reply:

    Freak show?

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    Anchit Reply:

    nadal is sure doping no doubt about it. He seems to have juiced up a lot more than he ever has so as to win rome the french and possiblty wimbledon in face of rising challenge from federer and djokovic he seems impossible to beat

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    Chris Reply:

    Rocky Balboa vs. Ivan Drago?

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    sraman Reply:

    Interesting – I hope you meant Rocky as Roger and Drago as Nadal. If that is so who is Appolo?

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