I’m late with my match report and its Roger Federer’s fault. Well mostly, he had a late start to begin with because Verdasco took over 3 hours to lose to Delbonis earlier in the day which drastically delayed all the action by at least 2 hours. As such I ask for forgiveness in advance if there are typos here since I’m writing faster than the speed of light to quickly summarize the thrilling 3 setter the Maestro won in just under 2 hours.
The first set was very close with Florian playing slightly better than Roger though not enough to break him. The set continued on serve with only one break point offered and saved by Roger. It led to the inevitable tie-break where Roger found an extra gear while Florian lost his edge a bit. Several mini-breaks were exchanged till finally Roger was serving for the set at 6-3. Though he lost the next point, he finally snatched the tie-break with a gorgeous forehand and took the set in 47 minutes. The first set was very high quality from both players with creative shot-making and deft touches at the net. On to the second set. Here are the first set stats.By this time it was almost 8pm local time and apparently quite chilly for Roger wore a sweater vest before starting the second set. Buoyed by the momentum from the first set Roger held his first service game of the set to love. However, despite having 2 break points in Mayer’s first service game he was unable to convert and the score line was 1 all. From then on, it all unraveled for the Swiss. He got broken quite easily in his next service game and then again failed to convert 2 more break points the German offered him in his own service game. By then the score was 3-1 in Mayer’s favour. The rot continued as Roger got broken again. Meanwhile, Florian served back to back aces in his next service game and quickly consolidated the double break. Serving at 1*-5 to stay in the set, Roger seemed to have finally woken up and held to take the score to 2-5*. While serving for the set Florian gave Roger 3 break points. Roger missed the first two but took the third. Roger needed to hold his next service game but after some hard fought rallies he provided Mayer with a break point which was also a set point. Florian took it gladly and we were at 1 set all. Here are the second set stats.This was the first set Florian had won against Federer in their 5 meetings thus far. The set was a let-down in quality from both players actually, though Roger more so. Neither player served well; their returns weren’t as high quality as in the first set. What let the German win in the end was playing well at the crucial points. He got only 3 break point opportunities but took all of them while Roger converted only 1 in 7. Also, Roger’s second serve points let him down considerably and Florian was able to exploit it at will. More importantly Roger’s body language seemed off. He seemed annoyed, listless and negative. Fans waited anxiously to see if Roger could turn it around in the third set.
The final set had a ton of craziness in store for us. Roger left his sweater vest in the bag presumably because the annoyance from his own second set performance left him hot with anger – well that’s my theory anyway. Mayer started confidently but in his second service game Roger took 4 straight points to break him right away. But Roger’s serve had been letting him down so I’m sure Mayer fancied his chances of breaking the Swiss back, which he did and we were at 2 all. But guess what happened? Florian lost his focus and Roger pulled out some brilliant tennis to break Mayer back right away again. And then for the first time in the set, Roger held comfortably to consolidate the break and go up 4-2*.
But Florian wasn’t done. After holding his own service game to love Mayer broke Roger yet again and then consolidated his break with another love service game. Roger had to serve to stay in the match. As we have seen many times before, in these crucial moments champions find something extra. Roger served beautifully getting in all but one of his first serves and equaled the scores at 5 all. Looking back that beautiful service game spelled the end for Mayer. The German won only one point in his next service game before getting broken emphatically. Despite getting broken so many times this set Roger was in GOAT mode by then and perhaps Mayer knew that too. Roger held serve to love to win the set and the match in 1 hour and 59 mins, 7-6(7-4), 3-6, 7-5. He is through to the SFs. Here are the third set stats.This match had everything, some beautiful play as well as some mental time-outs for Roger in particular. His serve let him down for the second set entirely and for much of the third. Many were wondering if he had injured his back again. Not only did he put on the sweater vest to keep warm, he also didn’t sit down on several changeovers and looked slow when walking on and off the court. But at the same time, the conditions were pretty brutal. It was cold and heavy and even Mayer looked sluggish at times. So it could be that his back was stiff temporarily and will be fine today. The match will certainly be played in daylight which should help considerably.
What is also concerning is he had 5 hours less recovery time than his opponent Delbonis. Roger has never faced Federico Delbonis, the 22 year old Argentinean ranked 114 in the world. Delboni has been having a dream run at this tournament. After winning in the qualifiers he took out Wild Card Reister in R1, 10th seed and former Hamburg champion Robredo in R2, Tursunov in R3, and 14th seed Verdasco in the QFs. Will he continue this magic run straight to the final? Or will Roger’s vast experience and talent help him overcome the upstart despite possible back issues? We have probably less than 6 hours to find out so we’ll know soon enough. Till then, Allez Roger!