Roger Federer is through to R4 at Indian Wells after yet another roller coaster of a match which took 1 hour and 44 minutes, even though it was in straight sets. I expected Tursunov to be a tough opponent but perhaps not quite so tough. Both sets went to tie-breaks meaning at any point Tursunov could have won at least a set if not both. But he didn’t. Because what usually happens to players like Tursunov when they have top players like Roger on the ropes, happened to Dmitry too. He blinked.
The first set started emphatically for Roger. He broke Dmitry, partially helped by the Russian’s double faults and then he consolidated to go up 2-0*. In Tursunov’s next game Dmitry saved a break point and held to get on the board. Another easy hold for Roger and the score was 3-1*. Finally Dmitry had an easy hold himself followed by another quick hold from the Swiss to go up 4-2*. Roger pushed the Russian in his next service game but by then Dmitry was getting settled in and he held. Not only that, for the first time in the match he started pushing back and took Roger to deuce on the Maestro’s own service game. But some fantastic serving from the Swiss ensured the break remained and Tursunov was left to serve to stay in the match at 3*-5. Tursunov was in the groove and held quickly putting the onus back on our champ to serve it out. And wouldn’t you know it; the nerves of closing out a set/match came back. Before anyone could process what was happening the Russian had 3 break points. Roger saved one but Dmitry took the next and it was 5 all. Buoyed by this break back, Tursunov held his next game, closing it out with an ace and now Roger had to serve to stay in the set instead. 2 aces from the Maestro ensured that he held to take the set into a tie-break.
The tie-break had its own ebbs and flows. Roger got the first mini-break to go up 3*-2 but then gave it right back to be 3 all at the change of ends. He got a mini-break again to go up 5*-4 with the possibility to win the set on his own serve but gave it back yet again for the score to be 5 all. It then went to 6 all prompting the next change of ends. Then Dmitry committed a double fault to give Roger yet another mini-break at 7*-6. But guess what, Roger gave it back AGAIN and it was 7 all. *facepalm* Roger held the next point on his own serve to go up 8-7* and he had set point on Dmitry’s serve. A short rally ended with a gorgeous forehand winner from the Swiss and finally Roger had taken the set in 53 minutes. Here are the stats.On to Set 2 and even though Roger was a set up, he still looked vulnerable while Dmitry still looked formidable. Though both players held their first service games to love, some uncharacteristic errors from Roger in the next game saw him getting broken after being up 40-15. That break however was the last straw for Roger and he came back immediately with a vengeance and broke Tursunov to love to take the score to 2 all. After that both players held serve, Roger with a bit more ease than Dmitry but still unable to push the Russian to a break point. The set lead to yet another tie-break but by this time Roger was playing more freely again and compared to the last tie-break this one was mostly devoid of drama. Roger hit an ace to get on the board. At 1 all Dmitry committed a double fault to give Roger the mini-break which he then consolidated with a service winner and another ace of his own. Up 4-1* and Roger got another mini-break with a fantastic forehand winner to take the score to 5-1*. Dmitry held the next point and it was up to Roger to close it out. This time there was no mistake. A fantastic serve brought out an error from the Russian and it was 3 match points for the Swiss. He only needed one and sealed the win with an ace. Here are the stats for the match.If you look at the stats there isn’t much to complain about actually. Nice serving stats and winners to unforced errors ratio is positive. It really did come down to the confidence and mental strength that is needed to close it out whenever the opportunity presented itself. He played 2 bad service games and got broken. I would say the first one was worse because he was serving for the set. And he didn’t break back immediately but rather let it go to a tie-break which was quite stressful to say the least. This mental walkabout he was on continued till he got broken again. But that seemed to wake him up and from then on he played with much more conviction. Although he couldn’t get into Tursunov’s games, he played his games much better and that form carried into the final tie-break.
I think the clear positive take-away from this match is same as the last match. Yes, it became a dicey situation but yet again, he stayed calm, and was able to work through it. He said in his presser clip too,
“Now I feel like I’m in a good place. Zen on the court. I know what my solid level is. Even if I won 6 and 6 today, I just feel like I was calm and served for the set. Okay, got broken. Still managed to stay calm. Down a set in the second; stayed calm and came back. So those are the moments where you feel there is confidence around somewhere.”
I believe we will see more of the same in the next match as well. He will face off against good friend Tommy Haas. The H2H is 12-3 in Roger’s favor. But their last match was at Cincinnati last year where Tommy was a set and a break up in the 2nd before Roger was able to turn it around. Plus Tommy played very well last night against Kei Nishikori. He will be a formidable opponent for sure. All I can hope is that Roger remains calm and patient and has enough self-belief to know he can get there no matter how circuitous the path might seem to be.
He gets a much deserved day off today, especially considering he also played (and won!) his doubles match with Wawrinka too last night. They are now in the Doubles QF at Indian Wells and this is great practice for their Davis Cup QF coming up at the beginning of next month. They won the doubles in 2 sets that went to tie-breaks as well so Roger played and won 4 tie-breaks in one day! No wonder he was #Happy! 😉Before signing off, one tiny stat. With this win, Roger has now won 703 outdoor matches surpassing Andre Agassi’s 702. This puts him at 4th place in the all time record of outdoor matches won behind Lendl, Connors and Vilas. Good luck for tomorrow Maestro!