Roger Federer is into the Dubai SFs and he got there by playing just 7 games and winning 6 of them. I already know it will take me longer to type this post, format it for my blog and add the requisite photos and links than it did for Roger to wrap up his match. Roger won the first set 6-1 in 20 minutes after which his opponent, Richard Gasquet retired. Roger said he probably noticed it too when he thought Richard hurt his back around 5-1*.
20 minutes doesn’t give much time to assess anything but I can say that Roger started this match strong from the start. He won the toss, chose to receive and it immediately paid dividends when he broke Gasquet. He then quickly held to consolidate the break at 2-0* 4 minutes into the match. Gasquet held to love next and the score was now 2*-1. This was followed by a love hold from the Maestro to go up 3-1*. Gasquet started his next game with a double-fault, then there was a fair bit of struggle for both players as errors from both led to 30 all and then to 30-40 with a breakpoint for Roger and that’s when Roger pulled the trigger to break once more with a delicious inside-out forehand. Up a double break, the Swiss decided to end this quickly and he held to love in 1 minute.
Serving to stay in the set Gasquet was up 40-0 but he looked to be in pain in this game. At 40-0, Roger returned his serve with the perfect drop shot that Richard didn’t even attempt to chase down. At 40-15 Roger ended a rally with a wonderful cross-court backhand that just kissed the line as Gasquet swatted at it halfheartedly. In the next point, the Frenchman stumbled over his footwork trying to hit a volley and Roger looked back at him too and that’s the point he indicated later in his presser. At deuce, Richard sent a forehand long to give the Maestro set point. Roger missed that one with an error but got another chance as Gasquet hit another double fault. The Frenchman hit a shot into the net and Roger had the set 6-1 in 20 minutes. Once the set was done, Richard immediately went to the umpire to inform him that he will retire and that was that. You can see the full set here. Here are the stats.Roger played a very clean match that whole set. His serve was perfection; he won all of his own service points. His net approaches worked well as did his baseline game. Even if Richard had not been injured I am inclined to say Roger would have won the match anyway in straight sets. Up next is the teen sensation Borna Coric who has made the most out of his Lucky Loser entry and ripped through his quarter of the draw with his latest victim being Andy Murray. He has absolutely nothing to lose and is full of confidence. He plays a strong baseline game and as Roger pointed out, he’s similar to Djokovic in his style of play, minimal errors and keeping up a constant pressure on his opponents to do better or get frustrated in the process. Here is a clip of Roger’s press conference and some more of his quotes on Borna Coric. You can hear his comments here too by downloading the clip from this link.
“He seems to really play up when it matters against the better players. Today I think it was a great victory. I didn’t see any of the match, so I can’t tell about Murray’s level. But regardless of the level, to beat Murray 6-1, 6-3, it was, it’s a great score. Because historically Murray has played very well here in Dubai. It’s definitely a message I get.”
The danger with Borna is not only that he has nothing to lose and is coming in with a lot of confidence, but also that Roger has never played him and nor has he seen much of him on tour. So it’s a matter of the unknown as well. Hopefully Roger will get off on the right foot and put the pressure on him from the start and not let Borna find his rhythm. The match is scheduled at 5:00pm local time. Come on Roger!