Since it’s the weekend and getting closer to crunch time, I decided to follow up yesterday’s post with a summary of what went down yesterday at Flushing Meadows. Yesterday I said I’m not making too much of Federer’s easy first two match wins and I believe I was proven right in that regard. Federer defeated Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-4, 6-4, but got broken by Kohlschreiber for the first time since Wimbledon.
In fact, he got broken twice, and both times he lost his serve to love. He also kept up the tactic of taking the second serve return on the rise and failed on several occasions. This tactic have turned out to be quite controversial. Fedfans even have their own term for it called SABR(Sneak Attack By Roger). As I said before, it will be more difficult to do at the US Open than at Cincy. I’m not sure if it’s a good idea for him to continue with it.
It seems Federer and his fans think it some kind of secret weapon. Like an ace up his sleeve, that will win him his 18th slam. I’m not saying that is impossible, but I guess we will find out what the deal is against Isner. Isner has a huge second serve and Federer would have to be very confident in this tactics to use it. And if he stops using it now then he loses his ‘secret weapon’ and it looks like he doesn’t believe in himself.
But the main point is that it is clear the conditions are very different from Cincy. On both occasions that Kohlschreiber broke serve, he followed it up with two double faults in both his following service games. The guy is incredibly fragile mentally and if he actually held his serve Federer could have already been involved in a very difficult match. Isner is mentally much better than the German and Federer could be in for a very difficult match.
So the first time Federer played a decent opponent the cracks already appeared. I’m not writing off his chances for the title or anything but in my opinion it is not a good sign for him to drop his serve to love twice against a guy who is not even a great returner. We will see what happens against Isner. Isner definitely won’t be a pushover in these conditions and already has a win in best of five sets over Federer, on clay of all surfaces.
If Federer puts in a convincing performance and wins in straight sets then his stock would go up again in my view, but if it goes to five sets, for instance, his stock would fall further. Isner will certainly get a lot of support from the crowd and I don’t think Federer wants it to become a long match for several reasons. He’d want to get it done in four sets at most.
Elsewhere in the Draw
Murray had his first straight set win when he defeated Bellucci 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 which is a welcome conservation of energy for him. He now plays Anderson though who looked very clutch for once in a 6-3, 7-6(3), 7-6(3) victory over Thiem. Thiem wasn’t actually playing badly at all. Anderson was just very clutch for once in his life and he could actually really test Murray if he keeps it up.
He already came very close to beating Djokovic at Wimbledon and he may just be ready to make the next big step in a slam. I can see him causing an upset if Murray is slightly off, who is not as clutch as Djokovic. Then both Stan and Berdych won too with Berdych dropping the opening set against Garcia-Lopez. Gasquet, who has been in good form of late, routined Tomic in straight sets and Young came back from two sets to love down to defeat Troicki.
Well, later today is one of our predictions matches Fognini vs Lopez who, by the way, have never played each other before despite both being on the tour since 2004. Astounding! And the winner of those two will play the winner of Djokovic vs Bautista Agut who plays in the night session. Looking forward to some more good tennis today!
Becker said the following about Federer’s ‘SABR’:
“My generation would have hit him on first serve. If he would have played McEnroe, Lendl or Connors or even me, we would have said, Roger, in all honesty, I like you very much, one more time, I go straight at you. In my generation, guys wouldn’t have accepted as it is now. For sure.”
Becker just stating the obvious and there have already been Fedfans on Men’s Tennis Forums who twisted his words, saying Becker ‘slagged Roger off’, that he said Roger was taking ‘cheap shots’ at his opponents and that the ‘whole locker room was talking about it’. I guess they are getting pretty desperate. I watched tennis back in those days and there is no way this tactic would just have been accepted by opponents without them doing something similar in return.
It’s like Becker said, they would have gone straight at Federer. Lendl did that anyway if he got the opportunity. But these days it’s all about money and PR nonsense so players are reluctant to do it. It is not against the rules to do what Federer does, but neither is it against the rules to take aim at your opponent at the net. You could say it’s disrespectful to do it, but you could say the same thing about Federer’s approach.
What is better, to lose or to go straight at your opponent when they showed disdain for your second serve? The answer is obvious. It is much better to win than to have your second serve embarrassed and lose the match on top of it!
The is in your court.