Roger Federer needed only 62 minutes to dispatch Thiemo De Bakker in straight sets and advance into Round 4 at the Sony Open. The day was hot and humid to begin with and when the players took the court it was sweltering at 2:30pm. The conditions were so muggy that even our Maestro was soaked through by the end of only an hour’s play.
Set 1 started in a convincing manner for the Swiss as he held to 15 and looked aggressive right from the start. In De Bakker’s first service game, Federer had a break point but failed to capitalize. At 1 all, Roger held to 30 with some beautiful backhands, forehands and serves. The next game was big for both players. De Bakker got pushed to deuce 4 times and saved 2 break points before a forehand error gave Roger the break. The Swiss got pushed to 30 in his own service game but finally held to consolidate the break to go up 4-1*. In his next game Thiemo offered Roger another break point before saving it and holding. Meanwhile the momentum had already shifted firmly towards the Maestro and he held quickly to 15 to go up 5-2*. Another difficult hold from De Bakker ensured that the Swiss would have to serve out the set. Roger did so flawlessly, holding to love and taking the set 6-3 in 34 minutes. Here are the stats.Set 2 started with an immediate break of serve for Roger as De Bakker’s level continued to wobble. Roger then quickly held to 15 to consolidate the break to 2-0*. Down a set and a break, De Bakker decided he wouldn’t go down without a fight. He got into trouble but with the help of two consecutive aces, managed to get on the board to keep the score to a single break. A love hold with 2 aces from the Maestro and the pressure was back on De Bakker. The Dutchman actually held quite comfortably but only for Roger to produce yet another love hold with another ace in there too. De Bakker’s next service game included some breathtaking shots from the Swiss but De Bakker held. Another love hold from the Maestro and Thiemo was left to serve to stay in the match at 3*-5. De Bakker was clearly nervous and hit his only 2 double faults in the match in this one game. He was pushed to deuce 3 times and gave Roger 3 match points in total. He saved the first two but couldn’t save the third. Roger took the second set in 28 minutes. Here are the match stats.Just like his Round 2 match, the Maestro served brilliantly in this match as well, especially in Set 2. He had ended Set 1 with a love hold. Except for the first service game of Set 2, he held all subsequent service games to love. Meaning, in the entire second set, he dropped just one point on a 2nd serve (he won 100% of his first serves). He didn’t face a single break point. He had more than double the winners compared to unforced errors, 23 to 11. In a match that didn’t seem particularly enjoyable for either player due to the stifling conditions, Roger did well to keep the match short and avoid spending too much energy. Here is a clip of his presser. Of course one can’t end the match report with yet another Hot Shot of the day produced by the Swiss so here’s a bit of magic for you that even pleased the great man himself 😀
Up next, the competition gets much tougher. He will face a fellow top 10 player, Richard Gasquet, seeded 9 at the tournament. The Maestro has a favorable 11-2 against the Frenchman but they haven’t played much recently, only once in 2012 in Madrid and once in 2013 at the World Tour Finals; Roger won both the matches. However, the conditions in Miami with its slow courts and humid, heavy air will be preferred by Gasquet who plays so far behind the baseline that sometimes he moves beyond the camera’s field of vision. He has yet to drop a set this tournament. In his presser, Federer said of Gasquet,
He’s got great game, you know. Gives himself time, sort of that extra second of time on each shot, forehand and backhand. … [He] can serve well. Can volley well. He’s got nice shots, forehand and backhand. So he’s a good all‑around player, and I think he’s done well here in the past. With the wind and the slower conditions, it works quite well for him. I think it’s going to be a tough match for me.
We shall see how it unfolds soon enough; their match is scheduled as the last Day session match of Tuesday. Tuesday will be a big day for Miami with the final 8 pairs in action. 12 of the top 14 seeds are still in the race (the 2 omissions being Tommy Haas and Juan Martin del Potro, both of whom withdrew with injuries). A lot of tennis for fans to follow along throughout the day. But as long as our champ comes through, that’s all I care about! 😉