By playing his Round 1 match today Roger Federer has now set the new record for most consecutive Grand Slam appearances! This is his 57th Slam in a row meaning he has participated in every single Grand Slam for the past 14 years since the Australian Open in 2000, no injuries, no withdrawals, no retirements. Think back to the past 14 years of your life – he was in EVERY Grand Slam for EVERY single one of those years. Yes, let that sink in. This is also his 59th Grand Slam in total; he’s tied at 3rd place with Hewitt and they are behind Agassi and Santoro. This match was his 302nd Slam match and (since he won) his 261st Slam match win which is a record he quite safely holds. Out of those 261 wins, 69 of them have come at the Australian Open. Roger also played his 1,143rd career total match out of which he has now won 927 matches.
Now that all those amazing stats are out of the way, let’s get down to business. Roger Federer is through to Round 2 of the Australian Open! He won in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the maestro. James Duckworth pushed Roger and himself as much as possible. Roger started off a bit stiff and wasted 3 break point opportunities right away. In the next service game Roger didn’t capitalize on yet another break point opportunity as Duckworth held to go up 2-1*. After a quick hold from Roger to go up 2 all, Duckworth went down from 40-15 to facing a break point which Roger finally converted. Buoyed by that break, the Maestro quickly held to love to go up 4-2 and pressured the Aussie in his next service game for 3 more break point opportunities at 0-40. Duckworth fought hard and saved them all to keep the scoreline to just 1 break. Both players served well in their next games and finally Roger had to serve it out. 1 Duckworth error, 1 service winner and 2 consecutive aces at the end allowed the Fed to take the game to love and close out the set 6-4 in 39 minutes.
Onto set 2 and both players held serve quite easily till 3 all. Duckworth provided Roger two break point opportunities but saved them both before giving him another one which the Swiss finally took to go up 4*-3. However, in Roger’s next service game when he was about to consolidate the break, he provided James with the only break point opportunity in the match. 2 big serves saved him and he held to go up 5-3*. Even though Duckworth held to love next game, so did Roger as he served out the set 6-4 in 36 minutes.
Set 3 and by then 2 things had happened. 1. Roger was well and truly in the groove and 2. he wanted to wrap it up as soon as possible, or it certainly seemed as such since he put the pressure on Duckworth right away. He got two break point opportunities but needed only one as he combined a wonderful lob and a smash to go up 1*-0. After he held the pressure was back on the Aussie as Roger had 3 more break point opportunities at 0-40. Duckworth saved them all plus an additional one before holding and keeping the break to just one game. Roger held comfortably yet again to go up 3-1* and then had 2 more break point opportunities again on Duckworth’s serve. This time, he took the first right away and got the double break, 4*-1. After a less-than-a-minute service hold to go up 5-1*, Duckworth finally has a good service game of his own with two aces and held, 2-5*. Roger dropped one point before serving out the set comfortably in 31 minutes, 6-2.
Roger’s first serves were confusing, either they didn’t go in, or when they did, they were highly successful. He had 5 double faults which are a bit much in my opinion, but then, he also had 11 aces and won 89% of his first serve points. Another positive aspect of the match was his relatively low unforced errors even though he played quite aggressively. He had almost double the number of winners too. Now this is also a fact: he converted only 4 out of 17 break point opportunities. That stat is what it is. But remember, in tennis, not all points are created equal. Meaning, Roger was able to convert when he needed to which is what counts. Plus it also means he kept pushing Duckworth constantly to create these opportunities in the first place. This was a good match for Roger. It gave him a workout but he was never threatened enough to go in panic mode. Also, he got better as the match went along which was great to see. Here is a highlights video clip and here are the match stats.Roger’s next opponent will be Blaz Kavcic, yet another player he has never faced before. No doubt the team of Severin and Stefan will gather intel and give suggestions. And that brings me to a particularly gleeful bit of news. Stefan Edberg, 6 time Grand Slam Champion and Roger’s new part-time consultant was there in the Federer player box! Here is the funny on-court interview clip where he talks about his mentor. He was asked about Edberg again in the presser where he said the following. (Here is the shortened video clip of the presser though it doesn’t include the quotes below).
“I realize after a set I didn’t look up once yet. I better check if he’s actually sitting there. I did see them. He was wearing sunglasses. Okay, he is there. […] Clearly, you know, when I did look up, I, you know, it’s nice seeing him sitting there. Even if he wouldn’t be my coach it would be nice. Plus he’s in my corner, it’s great. […] We will probably go to dinner tonight and just see who else joins in, and then we will just watch some matches, you know.”
That’s it for the match report. Roger will play his Round 2 match on Thursday, not sure when yet or what court. Till then, hope the Maestro has fun practicing in Melbourne heat wave during the day, while enjoying dinners with his idol at night 😀 And lastly, before I end the post…