Roger Federer has reached his 9th consecutive QF since Basel 2013! He defeated Lukas Rosol in straight sets 6-4, 6-1 in 57 minutes to reach the QFs in Monte Carlo. I know the score and the duration suggests it was an easy win for the Maestro but it was a bit more complicated than that; at least in the beginning.
Set 1 began on an ominous note. Roger served to start and immediately had to save 2 break points just to hold. A quick hold for Rosol and the pressure was back on Roger who yet again offered 2 break points to the Czech. He saved one but then double faulted to gift Lukas the break. Rosol quickly consolidated the break and took the score to 3-1*. Finally in his next service game, Roger seemed to have found his first serves and held to 15 to keep the deficit to 1 break. That didn’t faze Rosol however, who continued his great start with another hold to 15. But by now Roger had begun to find his groove back. He held to love taking the score to 4*-3 and signaling a possible momentum shift. And wouldn’t you know it, that’s precisely what happened. Roger took it up a gear in Rosol’s next game, with wonderful forehands and a backhand volley winner. Meanwhile, Rosol committed a few errors of his own and got broken to level the score at 4 all. At this point Federer looked to be in control and held his own game, leaving Rosol to serve to stay in the set at 4*-5. Rosol looked rattled and Roger looked invincible which meant there was only one possible conclusion: Rosol got broken at love and Roger took the set, 6-4 in 33 minutes.
Roger started Set 2 with a bit of a wobble in his first game. He was pushed to deuce before he produced 2 fantastic serves to bail himself out. Then it was Rosol’s turn to get tested. He got pushed to deuce as well before he held. However, by then Federer had found the FedExpress mode he had discovered towards the end of Set 1 and there was no turning back. The Swiss held to love and then immediately broke Rosol to love to go up 3*-1. He quickly consolidated with some fantastic play to put even more pressure on Rosol who was down 1*-4. Lukas then has a pretty terrible service game and offered the Maestro a break point. So far Roger had converted all of his break points and this one was going to be no different. He broke Rosol after a long rally and pushed the score to 5*-1 with a chance to serve for the match. He held to 30 and calmly served it out. Here are the match stats.Roger struggled at the beginning of the match in the first two games. His serves in particular didn’t work and he was shanky off both wings. After getting broken however, it seemed to be the wake-up call he needed. He righted the ship and didn’t lose focus till the end. Rosol also looked like a beaten man by the end while Roger just kept getting better and better which is why the second set is so much more lopsided than the first. What does the shaky start mean? Not much really, I don’t want to read too much into it. Whatever issues he had, he addressed them quickly enough and then never let up. Not every match can be clean and clinical. What matters is whether one can fix it; he did and I for one am happy and proud of him. Despite the slow start he still got 60% of his first serves in and won 91% of those points. He hit more winners than unforced errors and won 15 of 16 net points. Most amazing, he converted all 4 of his break points! Here is the presser clip.
His QF opponent will be a familiar foe. He will face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for the 15th time. Their H2H is 10-4 in favour of the Swiss but Federer would be right to be wary. The last time they played on clay was at Roland Garros last year when the Frenchman won in straight sets. Jo had a tough battle today over Fabio Fognini and won the match after being a set down. He will be brimming with confidence. So I am prepared for a tough battle with the match going the distance. It would be good if Roger has a better start to the match than he did in this Rosol match. But even if he doesn’t, I hope he takes his time, keeps his focus and doesn’t rush it. So far this year he’s been great at remaining positive when situations have been tricky so I’m sure he will do the same if Jo tests him. Fingers crossed, our Maestro will come through in the end!