It took him over 3 hours but Roger Federer came through his R3 encounter against Dmitry Tursunov in 4 sets. It was tough from the get-go and didn’t really let up except in the 3rd set. Since I am already late with this write-up because I can’t stop watching Roland Garros and I am sleep deprived, I will do a shorter recap instead.
Set 1 was intense with both players holding serve all the way until 5-all. Till then both players offered only 1 break point to each other but saved them. Serving very well, Roger held to go up 6-5* and it was up to Dmitry to take the set to a tie-break. Right on cue the Maestro applied pressure on the Russian and soon had 2 break points. He didn’t waste any time and after an extended rally, Dmitry hit a backhand into the net, giving our champ the first set. Here are the stats.If Set 1 was intense, Set 2 was downright nerve-wracking. Neither player gave an inch. They pushed each other to 30 all and deuces but weren’t able to break. That is, until the 12th game again with Tursunov serving to take it to a tie-break. Roger had 3 set points but unlike Set 1, Dmitry saved them with some fantastic serving leading to an emphatic hold. In the tie-break Roger got a mini-break to go up 4-1* but that was soon vanquished by Dmitry who then had a set point at 6-5*. Roger saved it and then had a set point of his own at 7-6* but Dmitry turned the tables again and finally took the set at 8-6. It was 1 set all. Here are the stats for Set 2.The Swiss must have been annoyed after wasting so many chances and because he really increased the pressure on Dmitry right from the beginning in Set 3. He got 2 break point opportunities in Dmitry’s first service game but the Russian saved them to get to deuce. He got another one and again Dmitry saved it with a great serve. Finally Roger got a 4th break point courtesy of a double-fault from Dmitry. This time Roger took it with an amazing forehand winner. He quickly held to consolidate and go up 2-0*. Both players held the next 4 games with Roger becoming increasingly more clinical. He cut down his rate of errors and was finding the lines beautifully, creating winners from every part of the court. Dmitry meanwhile had taken an MTO and seemed to be in a complaining mood. But I’ve seen him be grumpy at other matches too so I’m not sure if he was more irritated than usual. Serving at 2*-4 down, he got pushed by the Maestro for another break point. This time Roger took it right away and got himself a double break. Roger wasted no time in taking the set by serving up a couple of aces in the process, 6-2. He won a staggering 92% of his first serve points. Here are the stats for Set 3.Dmitry didn’t let the loss of that set deter him and opened Set 4 with a fine hold of his serve. It continued in this manner for the first 4 games to reach 2 all. Serving to go up 3-2, Dmitry gave Roger the opportunity to break with 3 break points at 0-40 down. Alas, Tursunov saved them all and little did we know then how frustrating this one game would turn out to be. Roger got 4 more break point chances but Dmitry withstood all of them with some fantastic serving and a few errors from the Maestro to go up 3-2*. Even though he let all those chances slip away, Roger remained focused and held to love to get the scores level to 3 all. Roger had break points on Dmitry’s next service game again. He missed the first one but finally took the second to break and go up 4*-3. Another quick hold by Federer meant Dmitry had to serve to stay in the match at 3*-5. The Russian did his part and served well, ensuring that if the Maestro wanted to get the win, he needed to do it himself by serving it out at 5*-4. By then Roger was on a roll anyway, and served for the match with no difficulty finishing it with a wonderful forehand winner. Here are the match stats.This was a tough match for Roger and yes, he should have been able to close it out in straight sets, but I am very happy with his composure and focus in getting the job done despite dropping Set 2. He played at a higher standard than the R2 match. He cut down on the number of unforced errors and returned better too. His winners to unforced errors ratio was back in the positive as well. What he did especially well was serve. 68% first serves in and winning 80% of those points is fantastic. He also won 69% of his second serve points. His Set 3 and 4 performance was excellent across all the stats. All save one of course – he converted just 4 out of 21 break points. We died new deaths with each one he missed. But I won’t dwell on it. A win is a win, doesn’t matter how many break points it takes to get there as long as he gets there. Here is a tiny presser clip where he talks about his performance.
His next match will be against the Latvian player Ernests Gulbis. Federer has a slim lead on their H2H of 2:1 but they haven’t played each other in 4 years. Meanwhile Gulbis has been in tremendous form and seems to have managed his erratic temperament much better so far this Rolly G. He will be a very big test for Roger for sure. But from here on, the journey only gets harder anyway. Roger has said he is excited to play him. I don’t have Roger’s nerves of steel, nor do I get that man’s idea of “fun” and “excitement” at times, but as long as he feels good, that’s what counts 😉 For now I am happy our champ made it to the 2nd week of a Slam.
Oh also, before I end this, I should mention yet another record Roger achieved with this win. He has now reached R4 of the French Open for 12 years going past Vilas’ record of 11 years. This was also his 1,175th career match and 954th career match win. 😀
Good luck for the fourth round Maestro!
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