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Federer gets the job done and reaches the QFs at Basel

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http://www.news.nom.co/federer-into-basel-quarters-after-fight-6736467-news/Roger Federer came through Round 2 in Basel and is now in the QFs. He was the only Swiss player to get through even the first round and the home crowd fervently supported their last man standing. Roger reached the QFs in three sets defeating Denis Istomin for the 5th straight time. But Istomin pushed Federer more than he had in the past and was certainly the better player at the beginning of the match.

Set 1 started with Roger serving first and serving well, much better than the round 1 match. Denis served very well too and the two held serve quite easily to go up to 2 all, with Denis being helped by some errors from Roger in his service games. Then, suddenly serving to go up 3*-2, Roger lost his concentration and gave Istomin 2 break points, the second one with a double fault. Roger saved the first but put a cross-court forehand into the net to get broken and stun the crowd into silence. Denis then consolidated with a love hold by making sure he served well and let Roger commit errors all over the place to take the lead 4-2*.

Roger’s next service game was quite tight but he held to keep the gap at 1 break only.  The Swiss pushed Istomin hard in the next game and even got a break point but failed to convert. As he hit a wide cross-court forehand at game point Roger wryly smiled to himself muttering under his breath and it was 5-3* in favor of the Uzbek. Roger nonetheless hung on tight and forced Istomin to serve it out. As Denis served for the set Roger kept up his aggressive play and got two more break point opportunities only to lose them again and the Uzbek took the first set 6-4 in 35 minutes. Roger looked annoyed and upset; he talked to himself a few times and shook his head. I was worried how he would handle being a set down. Here are the stats. s1Onto the second set and Roger changed out of his usual RF shirt into a generic grey Nike one which was deemed ugly by the majority of my twitter timeline. Nonetheless, he came out positive in his first game and with some deft touches and good serving, held to go up 1-0*. Denis held comfortably too as did Roger again and the score was 2-1*. In Istomin’s next game however the Swiss pushed and got a break point but couldn’t convert as Denis somehow held serve in the longest game of the match at that point. Roger held his next game comfortably and we even got an ‘Allez!’ when he hit a fantastic forehand to go up 40-15.

The Swiss then pushed Denis again in his very next service game. Istomin made a few errors and Roger stepped up his game with a gorgeous cross-court forehand winner that almost had a Rafa-esque lasso follow-through. He followed that up with a beautiful backhand down the line and a loud roar and a fistpump to go up 15-40. A final error from Denis and Roger got the break; the score was 4*-2 with Roger to serve. By then Roger had gained confidence and it showed. He held quickly to go up 5-2* and the Uzbek had to serve to stay in the set. Istomin refused to go away and held serve to force the Maestro to serve for the set himself. Thankfully, without too much drama, Roger sealed the set, 6-3 in 34 minutes and the ‘ugly’ shirt was hailed as lucky by one and all ;). Here are the stats.s2The third set started off with a massive hold by Istomin where he saved 2 break points before finally getting on the scoreboard at 1-0*. I thought Roger would have a ton of confidence and focus coming into the set but right away he was in trouble and three break points down at 0-40 with a rare failed smash. He saved all three and got to deuce twice before Istomin had another break point opportunity. The Swiss saved that and still was pushed to deuce two more times before finally holding in his longest service game of the match. We were at 1 all. I had a feeling during that game that whoever won it would get the momentum and might take the match so you can imagine how relieved I was when Roger held.

Immediately after that difficult hold Roger made sure Denis was put under pressure and soon had 3 break points. Denis saved one but Roger took the next and it was 2*-1 with Roger to serve. Federer consolidated to love and if you blinked, you probably missed it. In Denis’ next game, Roger had a break point again which Denis saved. But an error from the Uzbek gave Roger another chance and a failed Istomin volley helped Roger get a double break. The Swiss was up 4*-1. By then Roger was totally in his groove and yet another lightning quick love hold meant Denis had to serve to stay in the match at 1*-5. Istomin made sure Roger didn’t get a breadstick and was forced to serve for the match. But the writing was on the wall already and the Swiss served it out without much fuss to take the set and the match, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in 1 hour and 51 minutes. Here are the stats for the match.mOverall, similar to the first match, Roger took his time to get going. The difference was Istomin was a more formidable opponent than Mannarino and as such it was a much tougher match. Istomin rightly deserved that first set while Roger rightly deserved the second. The third set was tense only in the first two games but after that it was a one-sided affair with the Swiss looking near his natural sublime self and the Uzbek wilting away. Roger’s serving was a bit better than the first match but it should ideally be higher. Again he didn’t convert too many of the break points, but like the first match, he converted at crucial times. Even more importantly he had a positive mind set and body language all throughout despite losing the first set. I think that was key in not only winning the second set but also hanging tough at the beginning of the third. Post-match he said the following:

I stared poorly, making too many errors, especially on the forehand, I was risking too much and it was not paying off. I had to cut that risk and was a bit lucky to win. I started fighting back and got better as the match went on. I’m happy that I was able to turn it around, I needed a match like this.

http://www.derbund.ch/sport/tennis/Federer-auf-Umwegen-in-den-Viertelfinals/story/13009612He will face the winner of Dolgopolov vs. Dimitrov in the QFs and I don’t have a preference for either. His H2H with Dolgopolov is 1-0 and he’s never faced Dimitrov, the Bulgarian who seems to have modeled his game similar to the Maestro. I know this meeting is highly anticipated by most but not by me. I would rather see this match-up when Federer is back to his best. Right now I don’t think this meeting will illustrate the full potential of how interesting it might be. Besides, at this point I am too focused on Roger himself. The Istomin match should have been easy on paper but I knew it would be tough due to Roger’s recent form. The result of the match was decided by Roger himself and that he was able to press hard at the big points. The same will happen in his next match no matter who he faces. It will be up to Roger. So far, the signs have been good so fingers crossed! Keep your focus champ! Allez!

 

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4 thoughts on “Federer gets the job done and reaches the QFs at Basel

  1. Well… I’m all up to date now 😉 Thank you for that! That and a few DMs on Twitter brought me up to speed in no time. Loved it!

    I’m very very happy with this win. As he said (there is a french quote somewhere) this match gave him a lot of confidence, mentally AND physically and I’m pleased with both and that he is very aware of that. I heard and read that people were saying ‘oh but he missed so many FHs’ and ‘oh it was bad’, but I think if this all works, the shots will follow automatically. Because one thing we do know is that Roger really still knows how to play tennis, despite his bad moments this year. There is plenty of proof of that. He also said that he knows his game is not quite there yet, but I’d say the same to him actually if I could “if this gave you the boost mentally and physically, the game and shots will follow”. There is NO doubt in my mind about it. It could be that he needs a few more matches. Or even this year. But he’ll get there.

    Now. I hope I can find some time to catch up on this match… I heard good things about fighting through it in the 2nd, including big “Come On’s”, “Allez’s” and even roars… 😉 And the 3rd set where Vintage Fed showed up. But if not, I am still very happy about the win. And I’m looking forward to the next match. Although I’m not sure I can see that either! I’m not very lucky this week if it comes to that… Fingers crossed. I don’t have a preference btw, just like you, who he plays. I don’t like Dolgo but he can be tricky if he’s on. And I love Grigor, as you know. But he’s in really good form at the moment and if he’s not starstruck (after all, he will play his hero), I think he can push Rog real hard. Roger said a few weeks ago he would find it weird and interesting to play Grigor because “our styles are very similar”. If it’s going to happen, I’ll bet he will “have a blast” while we are getting a zillion heart attacks 😉 Because obviously, I do want Roger to win that match, even though I love Grigor a lot!

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    • Thanks for commenting Natasja! I’m very very happy with this win for the exact reasons you described. To me I liked the 2nd set more than the 3rd because once he got that hold in the 3rd, he was vintage Fed and while that is simply delightful, I think the fight back in the 2nd set is what I will take away from this match. He fought tooth and nail in the set. Only had that one break of serve but kept his calm, kept up his aggression but at the same time, cleaned up his game and served it out with no drama. He was intense and vocal and had a sense of positive urgency that really didn’t allow for Denis to have time to think. When Roger picks up the tempo of the match to match his own speed you know you’re in trouble. He takes no time in between points and games and makes you do a ton of running and doesn’t allow you to catch your breath. By the 3rd set you could see Denis was totally drained and his legs weren’t moving much. Wait, didn’t they say Roger is the old guy here? 😉

      As for the next match, Dolgo reminds me of Monfils in a way. On a good day, he causes everyone problems and you never know when this good day will suddenly come; I suspect Dolgo himself doesn’t know it either. So that’s always a worry. With Dimitrov, well he;s in the form of his life while we know how Roger’s year has been going. I would’ve thought he would be star struck but after the win last week, I think he will have a ton of confidence coming in. Either way I will be worried about Roger and I firmly believe it’s all on him. I know if vintage Fed shows up, even a Grigor at his prime can’t touch him. But if the Roger from the first set remains, then we’re in trouble. But the good points are this: 1. He has already made a good case to get included in London by reaching the QFs. and 2. The fact that he was able to analyze his first set and change his tactics and remain positive, that gives me hope.

      Hope you can watch somehow! If not you will be getting a flood of messages from me of course! 🙂 Thanks for reading! 😀

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  2. Great write-up! I did something I haven’t done in years: I followed the match in the match thread at rf.com. I started on a livestream but was too nervous. Some on rf.com can be so negative when Roger is struggling so I usually stayed away during matches. However, despite the first set wtf, I was glad I was there. Felt like someone was holding my hand! I was so glad to see Roger problem solve during this match. I was able to watch the replay on the Tennis Channel after work and I don’t think I have ever seen a place go as silent as it did when Roger got broken in the first set. Glad they cheered him on in sets 2 and 3.

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    • Ooooh you are a brave woman! I don’t venture out on any social platform these days when Roger is playing, especially this year. So much negativity! I just keep my twitter on my mentions page and DM sometimes with people who are not ready to murder Rog after every missed shot. But it’s best to watch with people who are going through what you are so I understand what you mean. I was so worried at the end of the first set but like you I was so happy to see him figure it out. He remained positive and focused and calm but with the right amount of intensity and urgency as well. I’ve also loved the Basel crowd so far. They aren’t disrespectful like Madrid was this year for instance and most importantly, contrary to Burning Forest, they LOVE Roger <3. They stood and cheered for him for ever BP he got and every game point and set point he had. Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂 Hopefully the fantastic crowd will witness another win tomorrow!

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