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This blog covers all things RF. It is dedicated to my dearest friend and avid FedFan @EfieZac. May she RIP 💙

Federer in an Empire State of Mind ;)

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https://twitter.com/usopenThere are too many awesome New York songs I could’ve picked from to start my post but I’m resisting the urge so at least allow me to have the title! In any case, we’ll get started with what’s most important; our champ is back in action in NYC! Roger Federer came into the US Open seeded 7, the lowest since Wimbledon 2003. If you didn’t know that information before, I’m sure your commentators reminded you 3746738 times during the match. As we know, Federer is on the same quarter of the draw as Nadal, making it 4 times in a row this year alone for them to meet each other in the QFs; Indian Wells, Wimbledon, Cincinnati and now US Open. (Meanwhile, Murray is yet to play Rafa this year – why do you hate us tennis gods?). But before yet another Fedal QF can happen, both have to get there through 4 rounds. Up first for the Maestro was Slovenian player Grega Zemlja, ranked 62 in the world.

The match was originally scheduled for prime time night session on Day 1 but it got rained out (of course). It got rescheduled to the day session of Day 2 instead. It was quite windy which caused problems for both players. Roger kicked off the proceedings by immediately double faulting to give Zemlja a point but then took the next 4 points and the game in under a minute. He then had 2 break points on Grega’s serve but wasted them both and soon it was 1 all. The first set stayed on serve although while Zemlja had all sorts of problems with the wind and double faulting and quite a few errors, Roger held quickly and efficiently. Roger was very aggressive and was timing his forehand particularly well. He kept pushing Grega and it seemed a matter of time before he would break the Slovenian. Serving to go up to 4 all, Grega could manage only one point before committing 3 errors in a row and getting broken. Roger then held to love for the 3rd time and took the set with an ace in 25 minutes. Here are the stats for set 1.set1In the second set, Zemlja was under pressure right away. He saved 3 break points but Roger took the 4th and looked to be in total control. Grega’s shots continued to land out or find the net while Roger served and held brilliantly. Grega held for two more games but in his next one he got broken to love, or rather he broke himself with two successive double faults (he had 5 in this set alone) and gave Roger the lead at 2-5*. Roger varied his serves with slice serves, a high kick serve and a bodyline one. Zemlja had no answers for any of them and Roger took the second set 6-2 in 23 minutes. Here are the stats.set2In the third, Grega picked up his game somewhat and tried to engage in more rallies. They stayed on serve, Roger much more comfortably than Grega. In Grega’s 4th service game he offered Roger 2 break points. https://twitter.com/usopenRoger converted on the second and it seemed like the writing was on the wall for the Slovenian… or was it? Roger was serving to consolidate his break but lost his concentration, and despite having 2 game points he found himself at deuce and then provided Zemjla’s first beak point of the match. Roger saved that one and the next but on the 3rd after an intense rally the Swiss got broken and we were back on serve.

Roger seemed angry and irritated and barked at the linesperson “what are you looking at?” Clearly the maestro was in a mood. Maybe he was angry with himself for his concentration lapse, or the wind, or because he had rushed trying to finish this but the question was could he calm down quickly and take back control. Meanwhile, buoyed by this new found confidence, Zemlja had a solid service game with 2 aces to go up 5-4* taking a lead on the scores for the first time. But unfortunately for him, the Swiss had calmed down by then. Roger refocused and held to love as if the previous awful service game hadn’t happened. Zemlja’s next service game was crucial and tightly fought till Roger got a break point opportunity at 30-40. For once, Federer converted right away with a gorgeous forehand and wrestled the control of the match back to go up 6*-5. There was some fantastic serving and net play from Roger and soon he had 3 match points. Grega saved one but a Federer forehand volley sealed the deal. Roger won the third set 7-5 in 45 minutes. Here are the stats from the 3rd set.set3It was a strange match to be quite frank. The wind made it tough and both players tried to be very aggressive. The goal seemed to be to keep the rallies short. Zemlja’s 9 double faults in the match certainly didn’t help him and it was difficult for both of them to find any rhythm. But despite that one blip in the third set I see mostly positives for Roger. He served well overall with 12 aces and provided no break points till that third set, though it would be better if he got more 1st serves in. He had more than double the amount of winners compared to his unforced errors and his forehand in particular was lethal. The stat that stands out to me is the net points won. He came to the net 21 times and won 20 of them. I’m sure we will see this lessen as he comes up against players who return much more effectively but it was great to see that he recognized this tactic would work in this match. He came to the net repeatedly without fear and it was a good opportunity to get some match practice with net points. His movement seemed better to me than the last few tournaments as well. Here are the overall match stats.CapturesssInterestingly, right after the match he went straight to the practice courts. When asked about why he did so in the press conference he said “Just [for] rhythm. Hardly had any rallies today. Decided to go and just work out some more on the practice courts.” His next opponent will be the Argentinean Carlos Berlocq, ranked 48 in the world. When asked about him, Roger said “We know each others’ game pretty well, so we know what to expect.” You can take a look at the press conference and read the transcript here. It was a long presser and I highly recommend you take a look 😀

Before I end the post here are some Fedtastic stats. By playing this match Roger has now equaled Wayne Ferreira in the record of most consecutive Grand Slams appearances at 56. That’s 14 years of participating in every single Grand Slam continuously. This is also his 58th Grand Slam appearance in total; he is 3rd on the all-time list tied with Lleyton Hewitt and Jonas Bjorkman. He has now won his 911th career match (out of 1,120) and this was his 258th Grand Slam match win (he’s the record holder) and 65th US Open match win, tying him with John McEnroe in 5th place.

Last but not the least I’ll leave you with this clip of the fantastic interview of Roger by his old friend and rival Andy Roddick. And here are Roddick’s afterthoughts on the interview and on Federer. Both clips reminded me how great Andy Roddick was for the sport itself; tennis still hasn’t quite found a replacement. So I’ll end with a shout out to Andy: We miss you and wish you all the best. Hope to see you more in the future!

***Photos from https://twitter.com/usopen

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4 thoughts on “Federer in an Empire State of Mind ;)

  1. Thanks so much for this write up. As usual, the ESPN tv coverage means a cut up version of the match and I haven’t had a chance to watch a replay. My main comment though, is to thank you so much for including the link to the Roddick interview. In such a short time, we got the essence of Roger, Andy, their relationship, and a glimpse at why Roger means so much to tennis. I have always been disappointed that the amazing feat of breaking the Slam record received such a muted response. I have always been amazed that with all the pressure on Roger, his tough 2009 Spring (until Madrid), a wife pregnant with twins, the match itself, and yet his care for Andy’s feelings. What would the tennis press have done to him if he had draped a Swiss flag over himself and ran around Centre Court ala Nadal in 2008? Yet all we hear is how they are equal ambassadors for the sport. Thank goodness for evidence like Roddick’s interview to the contrary.

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    • Thank you for reading and for your comments! I was wondering whether to include the Andy interview link because it wasn’t directly related to the match but I couldn’t help it. It just needed to be there somehow 🙂 Roger said he didn’t think it was anything extraordinary, what he did, and honestly knowing what we know of him I would have been surprised had he reacted otherwise. But Andy’s appreciation was perfect.
      As for Rafa, as you know we don’t agree on our opinion of him 🙂 I also remember Rafa’s behaviour at the AO 2009 ceremony and how he handled Roger being emotional. I disagree that Roddick’s interview indicated the contrary about Rafa not being an equal ambassador for tennis. The interview was about Roger only, Rafa’s claim as a tennis ambassador was not brought up nor were they compared. It told me was Andy appreciates Roger, especially on how he handled Wimbledon 2009 and thinks of him very highly, but nothing on Andy’s opinion on Rafa or any other player. In his afterthoughts clip he said in his opinion Roger is the GOAT and only Rafa ‘might’ catch up but for now the numbers don’t lie and as such Roger is the GOAT. I agree with all that Andy said. It was great to see that the friendship and camaraderie these two seemed to share on court translates well off-court too. I believe they went to the ATP gala right afterwards so they seemed to just continue chatting away :D.
      Thanks again for reading and let’s hope for more such matches in the coming weeks! Allez!

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  2. Oh you misunderstand me. To me, Andy’s remarks about how Roger handled himself was to me evidence of how far above other players Roger is in his concern for his opponents. As someone pointed out to me, there is a reason Roger has won so many Edberg Awards voted on by his fellow players. I understand that they were speaking only about 2009 and there was no discussion nor should there have been of any other player. I made the comparison because I don’t care for how the press holds Roger to a completely different standard than they hold other top players. The US press gave Roger a fit because he put on the jacket with #15 and it colored the way they covered him breaking the record. I understand that others may disagree but to me Roger stands head and shoulders above others as an ambassador for tennis.

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    • Ahhh I see now. Totally forgot about the stupid #15 fiasco. I remember not even understanding initially what they were talking about and then to my comic indignation I realized a jacket was dominating the conversation rather than the record, etc. Hmm maybe the US press was also annoyed that he broke a record held by a US player and defeated another US player to do it, who knows. It mystifies me how he can be called arrogant when there is SO MUCH evidence otherwise. I think unfortunately he too is responsible for this unrealistic bar of excellence he is held to. He is so perfect that the vultures are always circling so they can be the first to claim something negative that will tarnish him and help sell headlines in the process 😦 they take comments out of context constantly and the thing is Roger must be the most interviewed tennis player ever so they have ample opportunities to constantly try to discredit him. I have almost given up on tennis journalism because the bias of certain reporters is just too much to bear. Thanks again for the comment and apologies if I misunderstood your first one. Following on what you said, I think the 8 Edberg Awards are proof enough on how he is with his fellow players. And whether the media sees that or not, we the fans certainly do 🙂 Fingers crossed for a quick easy match in Round 2!

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