I am still so exhausted from the match that I don’t even know where to begin. Let’s start with the obvious. Roger Federer won his Monte Carlo QF match over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a tense 3 setter and has now reached the SFs! But he took us for a roller coaster ride in the process *phew*
So the beginning was stable. Both players held their first two service games and it was 2 all. The drama that was about to unfurl started in Jo’s 3rd service game. Jo offered Roger 2 break point opportunities but then saved them to hold. We should’ve known then what was about to happen. In Roger’s very next game he offered Jo a peek and Jo snatched it, going up a break with his very first break point. He was up 4*-2. While serving to go up to 5-2* Roger had yet another chance to break Jo but to no avail. Having to serve to stay in the set, the errors flowed from the Swiss as Jo broke him yet again to swiftly take the second set 6-2 in 34 minutes. Here are the stats.On to set 2 which took 1 hour and 19 minutes. And let me tell you, for 1 hour and 18 of those minutes it was utterly frustrating. Looking back I am amazed I didn’t throw things at my laptop or that my room isn’t strewn with clumps of pillows. Believe it or not, Roger played quite good tennis for the most part. He really upped his game from Set 1 and hit scintillating shots. He kept pushing Jo while holding serve relatively comfortably. Roger faced only 1 break point in this set and he saved that too. If you compare the stats between Jo and Roger, there isn’t much to choose from them; except for 1 crazy stat of course. 10, yes 10, break points came and went and the Swiss converted none of them. He played well to get those opportunities, but in the big moments, he kept faltering and badly too. Even the usual poker faced Roger was upset. In fact he was so frustrated, at 3 all when he missed a return, he smacked the ball out of the stadium and actually got a code violation! It’s been years since he’s gotten one of those!
Still, Jo hung on and the set looked like it would head to a tie-break. However, serving at 5*-6, Roger was suddenly down 0-30, meaning Jo was 2 points away from winning the match. Thankfully Roger won the next 4 points in a row and we were in a dreaded tie-break. The first 3 points were on serve before Jo gave Roger 2 mini-breaks to go down 4*-1. Jo got one back but Federer was still up one mini-break at 5-2*. Jo gave Roger yet another mini-break such that the Maestro was at 6*-3. And wouldn’t you know it, 2 errors from Roger and both mini-breaks were gone. Back on serve, Jo leveled at 6 all but then lost his next serve point again to go down 6-7* in the tie-break giving Roger his 3rd set point. Finally, Roger took it with a wonderful forehand winner and boom! 1 set all and we were going to a decider! Here are the stats for Set 2.Set 3 started and the body language of the players already seemed a bit different. Federer looked rejuvenated while Jo was no longer smiling. The set started with the Swiss serving and he emphatically held to love to get on the board and put the pressure on Jo. An error from the Frenchman gave Roger his first break point of the set but he blew it and the score was at deuce. Yet another break point for the champ only to be saved by Jo. Then came an immediate 3rd break point and finally after 15 failed attempts, Roger broke Jo on his 16th break point. Huzzah!
Up 2*-0 the Maestro wasted no time in consolidating the break with another love game to go up 3-0*. Jo was up 40-0 in his next service game but Roger pushed it to deuce. Roger then had another break point opportunity and missed it. But then he got another one and his forehand enabled him to get the double break. Up 4*-0 Roger then held to go up 5*-0 and Jo had to serve to avoid a bagel. Roger had another break point but Jo saved it and got on the board finally at 1-5*. That meant that Roger had to serve it out. He got a bit tight and was pushed to deuce but in the end he clinched it with two great serves. Game, set, match, Federer 2-6, 7-6(8-6), 6-1 in 2 hours and 25 minutes. Here are the match stats.Clearly the biggest talking point of the match was the utterly crazy 2 out of 19 break points converted. I would love to know how many other players have had that stat and won the match. There isn’t much I want to say about that. Was it frustrating? Hell yes. But I will choose to look at it as Roger pushing Jo constantly. He was creating those opportunities and he put all the pressure on Jo while keeping his own service games intact (at least in the second set). Other than that, I thought he served well, won 21 out of 28 points at the net and though he had more unforced errors than winners, they were mostly from Set 1.
But those stats don’t mean much as far as this match is concerned. He didn’t win this match with them. He won it with qualities he possesses but is often not given enough credit for; his passion, his patience and his perseverance. I was having a fit with every break point missed and by the time it was the 2nd set tie-break and those first few set points had come and gone, I was going blue from holding my breath. But there he was, 0-13 on break points, 2 set points wasted and he still found a way to hang tough and take it to a decider. This was a great showing by the “Gritty Federer of 2014”- starting off slow and then problem solving his way out. By the end he looked far fresher than Jo who looked physically and emotionally spent. No bad for a 32 year old eh? 😀 Here is a clip from the post-match interview where he talks about those missed break points. And here’s a fantastic Hot Shot from the Maestro too!
Up next is yet another familiar face, Novak Djokovic. It will be their 34th meeting and the current H2H at 17-16 in Roger’s favour. With today’s upset of Rafa losing to Ferrer, Djokovic is the man tipped to win the whole tournament. Roger and Novak have already played each other twice this year with Roger winning in Dubai and Novak winning in Indian Wells. Federer is the underdog here and maybe that will help him play freely. In the meantime, he’s already done plenty to be happy about.
- He reached his 8th SF in the past 9 tournaments.
- He won his 950th career match out of 1,169 matches. Only Lendl and Connors are ahead of him.
- He has now reached his 50th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 SF.
- By reaching the SFs he has assured himself of his #4 ranking even if Ferrer wins the title.
- He seems healthy and is moving very well despite all the tennis he’s played this year. He has played 31 singles matches and won 27 of them so far, more wins than any other player in the ATP.
Tomorrow will be a tough day. But regardless of the result, it will not change how proud I am of him for coming this far. It will not change how I am in awe of his mental strength. And it will never change how I will support him through every forehand, every serve, every dropshot and yes, every break point he misses. So come on Maestro! We are with you! Allez!