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Federer takes a bumpy detour on his way to Round 2 in Dubai

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Roger Federer faced off against wildcard Malek Jaziri, ranked 128 in the world, in his first round match at Dubai. Jaziri did very well from the start, keeping calm, saving early break points and holding serve. Roger meanwhile had multiple love-hold games but wasn’t returning well at all resulting in no breaks of serve on either side as the set raced to 5-all. Then serving to go up 6-5, Roger lost his concentration and his serve and incredulously got broken. Jaziri kept cool under pressure and served it out to take the first set 7-5. Was it the wind swirling around the stadium that caused this aberration? Was it that-which-we-do-not-mention (the back injury)? Fans were left scratching their heads nervously as Federer began the 2nd set.

Our champ seemed a lot more focused right from the get-go and after holding his own serve, had break point on Jaziri’s service game. And unfortunately for the Tunisian, he committed his first double-fault at the worst moment possible letting Federer go up 2-0. Another speedy hold later Jaziri was broken again by Roger who was now up 4-0. The Swiss held serve again and then broke Jaziri one more time to take his first bagel set of the year, 6-0 in 23 minutes. We were now square at 1 set each. Interestingly Roger’s first serve percentage was a miserable 47% in this set but he more than made up for it by returning much better, winning 66% of the total return points compared to 33% in the 1st set.

Federer was on serve beginning of the 3rd set which he held comfortably. Jaziri seemed to come back with renewed purpose as he held to love to go up 1-all. Roger’s next service game was a bit shaky as he offered Jaziri one more break point which in the end was the last one that Jaziri would receive in the match. Jaziri didn’t convert and soon Roger was up 2-1, disaster was avoided. From then on, there was no looking back for the Maestro. Jaziri managed to win one more game to take the score to 2 all but then the FedExpress just rolled through the match, ultimately winning the set 6-2. It took the Swiss 1 hour 30 minutes to close out the match with a final score line of 5-7, 6-0, 6-2. Here are the stats.DubaiR1So what are the take-aways from today’s match? Well a lot or nothing depending on how you look at it. One can be forgiven at this point for saying, “well he was so up and down in this match we don’t know if there is any injury or something else that’s bothering him, but then he combined bad play with flashes of brilliance, so who knows what form he will show up in for the next match.” I however, am choosing to look at it as a match Roger used to find his footing in this tournament. I thought he definitely played progressively better as the match went on. I don’t think his movement is where it should be and his serves are still definitely off. He didn’t look as stiff as in his last match at Rotterdam but not up to his usual silent-but-deadly style either. He hasn’t had much practice time and the courts play a bit different at night anyway. Then there were the gusts of wind to handle and an unknown opponent on the other side of the net. I am not trying to make excuses here but simply stating that Roger seemed to use the first set to figure out his groove before settling in for sets 2 and 3.

Frankly speaking, his current level of play might not be enough for even Berdych or Tsonga, let alone a supremely confident Djokovic. But I get the feeling that Roger will get better with each match; unless his back suddenly gives out of course. Otherwise, he gets a day off tomorrow to work on some areas and will have a chance to come back fresh and without having that pressure of not crashing out in the first round. He will face off against the winner of Granollers vs. Montanes in the next round, which should be a straightforward match, at least on paper. Here’s hoping that Roger follows the script and saves us all a few extra grey hairs in the process. Allez Federer!

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5 thoughts on “Federer takes a bumpy detour on his way to Round 2 in Dubai

  1. Surprise, surprise 😉 I agree with everything. Althoug I’m 99% sure there were no back issues today. If it were the back after the AO, it’s gone now. I think now it was the combination of everything you mentioned. Fed said it himself too, it was really difficult for him to find a rhythm. And that makes sense, looking at Jaziri, who played all or nothing. At times, I think he had amazing shots and I admired him for staying so calm, but at other times he played awful shots ánd his first serves were terrible, or rather absent most of the time… I just think that from now on it can only get better. All the circumstances are better and he faces someone he has played before, which also helps. Has a day off tomorrow. Very good for us as well btw 😉 And hopefully the wind will be less. He needs rhythm. He didn’t get any in Rotterdam and that didn’t help matters at all.

    About his next match: I honestly couldn’t comment on that. I don’t know Granollers or Montanes well enough to say something sensible about that. Believe it or not, but unfortunately, there have been quite a few matches that I had to miss in the past because of work, so I never saw them play! We will just have to wait and see and in the meantime, keep the faith 🙂 Allez!!

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    • I hope you’re right about the no back issues. I’m just so scared of it all the time, partly because I know we’ll never really know if he has an issue because he won’t tell us. *sigh* and yes, Jaziri at times played quite badly which also made it difficult to get any kind of rally going. I think he’s now much more confident about his game and the tournament than he was before the match because he was able to turn it around so comprehensively. With regards to Granollers and Montanes, he has a 1-0 and 3-1 H@H with each of them respectively. It’s strange how he’s played Granollers only once before, considering Granollers has been around for a while. He’s a doubles specialist so I expect there will be a lot of net play from him, which should make for fast, interesting tennis. I am a teeny bit concerned that he he might face someone he’s only played once (so almost unknown), but then Granollers hasn’t been doing well himself lately so hopefully nothing horrible will happen. I don’t remember how Montanes plays, haven’t seen him much. He’s defeated Roger once on clay but will hopefully struggle in these quick hard courts. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.

      Had a random thought, this was Roger’s 9th night match in a row. The only day-time match he’s played so far has been R1 vs. Paire at the AO. I get the feeling these days he almost misses playing int eh warm heat. But our Roger is always the prime attraction so I guess that’s how it goes.

      Anyway, we can relax a bit today and watch the other players fight to stay in the tournament will hopefully Roger is out there practicing his serves. I know he hit 10 aces but it would be nice if his first serve % was at least in the low 60s. *sigh*.

      See you later on twitter! Have a great day and thank you so so much for reading and commenting!

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  2. You’re so welcome 😀 Happy to have made a habit out of this! Tomorrow is a new day. We’ll see how he plays, how he progresses and how things are. The interview we saw today was enlightening for me at least. First time, iirc, that he uses the word ‘transition’. We are constantly managing each other’s expectations and now he joined us 😉 I will miss him terribly (understatement), but I’m so for the longevity goal that I’m ready and prepared to a lot of missing if that means we can keep him on court for longer… But it’s tough. I’m very curious how he will do at RG. Taking more time to prepare for that. It’s almost as if he wants to have another go at the trophy and if not this year, than next year… We have to wait and see… First the match against Granollers. Sending good vibes into the direction of Dubai! #faithinFed 😀 Allez!

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  3. 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

    Couldn’t resist 😉

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