Roger Federer faced Argentinean player Carlos Berlocq, ranked 48 in the world in his Round 2 match at the US Open. Right off the bat you could tell this would be an entertaining match. Berlocq brought his best to the match in the first set. He spins the ball much more than Roger’s previous opponent and as a result we were treated to some great rallies as well as crazy shots from both.
The players held serve, Roger much more comfortably than Berlocq. The Maestro started with a love hold and then immediately put pressure on Carlos. Though he held his first service game, Carlos got only one point with an ace in his second game as a slew of winners from Federer gave the Swiss his first break. Roger dropped only one point in his own service game to consolidate the break and go up 4-1*. Roger continued to push and even got another chance to break Carlos in his next game but the Argentine saved it to hold. The set continued on serve with Carlos struggling to hold despite a staggering 97% of his first serves going in. He however won only 54% points of those serves. Meanwhile, only 57% of Roger’s first serves went in but he won 85% of the points and 90% points of his second serve. Roger closed it out with some beautiful forehand winners to take the set 6-3 in 31 minutes.
In the second set, Roger continued the pressure especially with his forehand, on Carlos’ first service game. He soon had three break point chances. Though Carlos saved the first two, FedEx took it on the 3rd with another delicious forehand down the line. You’d expect Roger to consolidate the break easily right? Not so. A strange lapse in concentration and every shot except for an ace landed out or in the net. Before you could blink, Roger was broken back. 1 all. That must have woken up Roger for he came back guns blazing. His forehand was the star of the show and after a well-fought game Roger broke Carlos. From there on, there was no looking back. Our champ held to love in his next game and made a statement. In Carlos’ next game Federer had 3 break points and after going back and forth in intense rallies Roger broke him again. Roger was tested serving to go up 5-1 but he held. Carlos desperately managed to get one more service game and the play of the match came when Roger hit a tweener only for the Argentine to put it away for a winner. The Swiss gave a break point opportunity while serving for the set but ultimately prevailed to take it 6-2 in 35 minutes.
In the third set Roger was in no mood to mess around. He broke Carlos again right away and quickly consolidated to go up 2-0* and then broke Carlos again for a double break in the set. In his next service game Roger double faulted at 30 all to give Carlos a break point opportunity but then quickly regrouped and held with a service winner and it was 4-0*. Berlocq finally held a game to push the score to 4*-1 and get on the board. Roger then held despite a good fight from Carlos that pushed him to deuce and thus finally it came down to the Argentinean to serve to stay in the match. By then Berlocq looked quite dispirited. Though he won a point off a drop shot, the rest of the game was all Federer. He hit winners and forced Berlocq to commit errors and before you knew it, the Maestro took the set 6-1 in 28 minutes.
Federer won the match in 1 hour and 35 minutes, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1; (Nice symmetry to the scores there right? That’s where the title of this post comes from if you must know ;)). He hit 37 outright winners to Berlocq’s 17 and won 94 of the total 152 points. The Maestro won 70% of his points at the net and converted 54% of his break points. Obviously just getting your first serve in won’t get the job done as we saw with Carlos; 84% of his first serves went in but he won only half of those whereas Roger won 75% points off his first serves. Here are the match stats.Regardless I will still say Roger needs that stat of 52% first serves in to go up higher for his next matches. That was my only complaint from yesterday’s match and a very small one at that because in every other way he played even better than the first match. His movement was very quick and his court coverage was sublime. Roger’s forehand was simply to die for. Inside-out, down the line, cross court? No problem. His backhand held up well too despite Carlos going for the obvious play of targeting that wing.
Roger unveiled his full arsenal of net play, lobs, smashes, volleys, drop shots and even a tweener. Carlos played to the best of his ability as well, and while that wasn’t good enough to take down Roger it did provide the Swiss a chance to get into some rallies and find rhythm. This was the best match practice Roger could’ve asked for; it tested him but not too much and allowed him to try out all his skills. If he had a list of shots he wanted to try in a match setting I think he went through all of them against Berlocq.
His post match interview was insightful as well as funny. When asked about the potential Fedal QF Roger replied with a twinkle in his eye, “I didn’t even know Rafa was in my quarter!” before confessing that he was kidding and he wasn’t one of those guys who never looks at draws. When asked if there was one part of his game he would want to see get better in the coming weekend he promptly replied “Just keep on winning, I don’t care.” He concluded “I’m more of a results guy than how I play so I hope I can progress; we’ll see how it goes.” I think that sums it up actually. That talent is always going to be there, the body can be improved and sustained with the right workouts and diet but confidence is a fickle thing. So I agree with Roger completely, he needs those ‘W”s next to a good string of matches to get that confidence back. This Round 2 match was perfect for it. Here is the link to the highlights with his interview at the end. And here is the link to his presser.
Up next is the Frenchman, world #63, Adrian Mannarino who caused an upset taking out Sam Querrey in 4 tightly fought sets. Federer has met lefty Mannarino twice before in 2011 and won both meetings comprehensively. Hopefully we will be treated to another beautiful match win. In the meantime, more than anything, I’m just happy that the Maestro looks so happy and positive, on court, during practice and during pressers. Do I detect a hint of a turnaround to this year? Shhhh… don’t jinx it!