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“I’m coming home, I’m coming home…” – Federer through to R2 in Basel

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I’m coming home
I’m coming home
tell the World I’m coming home
Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday
I know my kingdom awaits and they’ve forgiven my mistakes
I’m coming home, I’m coming home
tell the World I’m coming
                                         – Lyrics by J. Cole

http://www.tageswoche.ch/Roger Federer is back on court (after what seems like ages). He squared off against the lefty Frenchman Adrian Mannarino who never had much luck against our Maestro. As the camera peered into the tunnel we saw Roger and Adrian warmly clasp hands greeting each other before Adrian first stepped out on court. Roger followed him out to thunderous applause as expected in his hometown.

He won the toss and elected to receive which is something we’ve seen him do a lot this year. Still not sure on why but it seems to be his thing in 2013. The strategy worked as a nervous Mannarino got broken right away. Roger quickly consolidated but Adrian shook off his nerves after those two games and once he got on the board he pushed Roger to get a break point. The Swiss gave it up in the worst possible way with a double fault and we were back on serve. Both players held for the next two games to go up 3 all before Roger pushed Adrian with a divine Federer-esque game. He hit a searing forehand cross-court winner to go up 0-15. Then an unreal lob while running back to the baseline from the net to go up 0-30. He went up 0-40 from an error from Adrian to have 3 break points. The Frenchman saved the first break point with a fantastic serve and the second one from a backhand error from Roger. But Roger finally sealed it with a great forehand winner and there was no stopping the Maestro after that. Roger held to love and even though Adrian held and pushed Roger to serve it out, he did so without too much drama and hit quite a few winners to take the first set 6-4.

Roger had a miserable time getting his first serves in, only 46% and what partly saved him was Adrian’s first serves % was even lower at 41%. The match was not of the highest quality in the beginning but by the end of the first set Roger seemed to be finding his rhythm and the error frequency reduced a bit. Here are the stats for Set 1.s1On to Set 2 and Adrian immediately had a very tight service hold saving a break point in the process. Roger meanwhile struck a brilliant backhand smash to go up 15-0 and that ended with a comfortable love hold to get on the board at 1 all. Adrian raised his level as well and his 2nd service game produced a lot of pretty tennis from both players. Roger had two break points and Adrian saved them both with an ace and a winner to get to deuce. Roger pushed to two more deuces before getting another break point chance with a gorgeous rally from both players. Yet, Roger couldn’t capitalize on it and Mannarino finally held, 2-1*. The next service game was tough for the Swiss and he was pushed to deuce twice, one of which was because of his own double fault. He ultimately held and things got substantially easier for our champ from that point on. He kept pushing Mannarino by playing aggressively and forcing errors from the Frenchman. He got a break point opportunity and this time he did not waste it and took the game to go up 3*-2. He quickly consolidated and kept bullying Mannarino in his next service game and had 2 break points again. Mannarino saved both but then provided another one. The Maestro hit a forehand winner and got the double break to go up 5*-2. He served it out to love with some excellent serves. Game, set, match, Federer, 6-4, 6-2 in 71 minutes. Here are the stats for Set 2.s2Roger did everything better in the second set, especially towards the end of the match. His first serve stats are not making me happy and his break point conversion rate rarely pleases me these days. However, it should be noted that he did convert those break points at crucial times in the match and stepped up a gear during the big points. This is something he has struggled with this year so that was encouraging for me. It wasn’t the prettiest of matches but it didn’t need to be. He needs wins more than he needs pretty tennis at this point. With the wins, the confidence will come back. And once the confidence is there, the pretty tennis will flow automatically, as it was towards the end of the match. http://elcomercio.pe/deportes/1647875/noticia-roger-federer-doblego-adrian-mannarino-su-estreno-basileaI know this match wasn’t against a big ranked opponent but a win is a win and it will help in getting him to a good mental place. He appeared frustrated a few times during the match and was even talking to himself which is rare. But I am going to focus on the win for now; as long as he gets there, it’s a good thing, regardless of how the win was achieved. Here are the highlights and here is the post-match interview in Swiss German.

Up next will be either Denis Istomin or Horacio Zeballos. His H2H with Istomin is 4-0 with his most recent win at Indian Wells, which was one of Roger’s best matches of this year. The Swiss has never faced Zeballos. Zeballos’ expertise is on clay and he has the distinction of being the only player besides Federer and Djokovic to have ever defeated Nadal on clay. He hasn’t been in the best of form lately so it might end up being Istomin who will face Roger. I think Roger’s next match will be on Wednesday but it could be pushed out to Thursday too. Till then, I’ll wait anxiously, with my fingers crossed and my mouth shut. No speculating, no theorizing. I’ll let the Maestro do the rest. *fistpump*

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6 thoughts on ““I’m coming home, I’m coming home…” – Federer through to R2 in Basel

  1. Lovely blog, as always 🙂 Thanks for writing it up every time. It’s so nice to read things back after the match. I read it and thought ‘oh yes, those winners, that shot’… And that is really great!

    I specifically liked this match, cause I thought he was mentally (again) a lot better than previous matches. Yes, he got agitated. Yes, he was talking to himself which was rare. But he not only got himself out of that fairly quickly, he also seem to be able to use the frustration to his advantage this time cause as you said, he started playing better as the match went on. And he knows, like no one else, that he needs to serve better. He might get away with it in the next match but if he gets through that one and he plays Grigor for instance, he might not anymore. So there is definitely work to do. However, I see mostly positives in this match. As Roger always says ‘the glass is half full” and I think so too.

    I RTed 2 quotes from him today on Twitter which basically said that he thought the slump this year was mainly caused by the back problems and everything that came from that. He also said that he started to play differently to put less stress on his body. It both confirmed what I already thought and it’s very interesting cause it gives you an ever better idea of the process he is in this year. He could not have foreseen what would happen during IW. He made mistakes as in that he kept playing and everything went from there.. I am really certain that all messed with his head big time. It’s like you suddenly become aware more of the fact that your body might not always hold up as well as you think… Which I think must be a scary thought. I think all the confidence problems, or at least the majority of it, originate in that whole thought if you see what I mean.

    The reason why I’m saying this, is that I think it’s still something you can see a bit in the matches now. He needs the time to completely get back into it. This match was definitely another (big) step forward, especially mentally as I said in the beginning. And the fact that he hit amazing winners, played well at quite a few of the big points (like you said) plus the LOVE of the crowd must have done him a world of good. So I’m happy with this win. Actually, I am very happy.

    On to the next match! I have no preference for who it should be. They both have advantages and disadvantages… Match by match… Our new motto today….. 😉

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    • Lovely to read your thoughts Natasja. I think we both have the same feelings regarding this match. Clearly there is much work that needs to be done. Like you said, those serves need to get better for the QF at least, though the sooner the better. But despite the frustrations I was happy that he managed to dig himself out and remain positive till the end and played well when he needed to. I have no idea what will happen next match. He played an excellent match against Istomin at Indian Wells but that was pre-back pain that changed everything. Istomin went deep this year at the USO too. So he will be a tougher opponent I thnk but to be honest it will all come down to Roger. It will depend on how Roger plays.

      As for the injury and his admission of it I think you are very right, it threw him for a loop and he made mistakes in trying to force it to get better quickly and then when it didn’t he started to lose confidence in his body and then his game. I also think there is a simple reason behind this. He has never been badly injured before in his loooong career. Rafa, Delpo, Tommy (actually both Tommys) know a lot about being injured and what that can do to you. So in a sense they are more mentally ready to face the consequences of long periods of time-out. Then you have Roger whose longevity is part of his legendary reputation. “Withdraw from a match? what is THAT? Wait, now you mean skip whole tournaments in a row? Including Grand Slams???? Are you crazy? I haven’t done that in my life!” So I think at the end of this tumultuous year he has come to grips with the situation and better now than next year. This way he will be fresh and ready to go in 2014 🙂

      And for now, I’m with you of course, match by match. It will probably be annoyingly tough no matter who the opponent. But hopefully he can keep his focus and dig himself out like he did yesterday. Thanks so much for your comments! Glad you liked the lyrics too 🙂 See you on twitter!

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  2. Excellent as usual. Great pleasure reading you! I loved the song at the begging. Nothing more accurate! Congrats!!!

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  3. Loved reading this! I had to follow scores and was able to watch the match online when I got home. At first, I was dismayed by the scratchiness of Roger’s play but I was glad that he seemed to get steadier as the match wore on. I hope Roger is able to find the form he needs to stay out there because tennis needs him!

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    • Thanks for your comments Deborah! I felt the same as you and was glad he got more comfortable as the match went on. I think he’s had to face some hard truths about his play and more importantly his injury and the ramifications of playing with it. It then snowballed into changing his style of play to protect his body which let to sloppy matches and therefore loss of confidence and the whole downward spiral. But he seems very clear on what went wrong and where he is at and I am glad he’s figured himself out by now so I think it bodes well for 2014. Meanwhile, I will take this year on a match by match basis. Fingers crossed we will have more moments to cheer for. Thanks for reading! 🙂

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