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This blog covers all things RF. It is dedicated to my dearest friend and avid FedFan @EfieZac. May she RIP 💙

A Tale of Two Matches

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2Roger+Federer+Internazionali+BNL+Italia+2015+v4naLT_ej0jxHere we are, Rome! I’ve never lived there so I have a biased view but based on a short holiday I was lucky enough to take in 2011, I absolutely fell in love with it. I am a big classical history nerd so the trip was a dream come true and one of my big bucket list activities that I could proudly strike off. On top of that Rome has fabulous food, warm people and gorgeous weather (in August at least) so really, I was in heaven. And guess what, it’s Roger Federer’s favorite city too 😀 but here’s the kicker: Roger has never won a title in Rome in 14 attempts. He’s reached 3 finals, but never the title; No guesses for who caused those heartbreaks.

So in his 15th appearance in Rome, Roger has already played 2 matches. The first was a repeat of the Istanbul final against the formidable clay court specialist, Pablo Cuevas. I was apprehensive given how valiantly Pablo had fought in their previous match but I needn’t have been worried. Roger played the best clay match of this miserable clay season. Pablo pushed him but you got the sense Roger was in control from the beginning. The first set reached a tie-break but unlike last time, no such dramas took place and Roger took it 7-3 with this amazing set point.

The Swiss continued to sharpen his game in the second set and produced this hot shot that left us and Pablo open-jawed in awe. Though he got upset at having wasted breakpoint chances early in set 2, he didn’t let annoyance thwart him from his plan of attack. Roger relentlessly pushed Pablo till he finally got the crucial break. One break was all he would get but that was enough as Roger took the set 6-3 with this amazing match-point shot. Here is the on-court interview he did with Sky, here is the post-match interview and here are the stats.pbRoger scored high across the board in those stats, 1st and 2nd serves, low unforced errors, high number of winners, net points won and so on. He looked good heading into his R3 match with Kevin Anderson the next day. Sure enough, he started his next match very strongly by breaking Kevin immediately to go up 3-0* in set 1. Roger was on fire and Kevin wasn’t playing his best which made this match less competitive than the previous one vs. Pablo. Roger easily took the set 6-3 and seemed to be in no mood to wait around in set 2. He got a break to go up 3*-2, then he quickly consolidated to get to 4-2* and then got a double break to go up 5*-2 and ready to serve for the match. And then… insanity broke loose.

Roger+Federer+Internazionali+BNL+Italia+2015+0foqDPmu7g_xFor the first time in the match, Anderson had a breakpoint. Roger didn’t make him wait long at all as he double faulted to gift Kevin the break. I thanked the tennis gods for that extra insurance break and hoped Roger would take it on the second try. Kevin, sensing a shift in the momentum, quickly held his own serve and went up to 4-5*. Roger was about to serve for the match, AGAIN. Ok so this time it had to work right? WRONG. Unbelievably, Roger was broken AGAIN and it was 5 all! In 3 games the match had gone from sunny and sublime to dark and painful.

Just when it looked a tie-break might be the best case scenario, Roger finally found that groove he had enjoyed for the past 1.5 matches and he broke Kevin to take the lead 6*-5. Which meant, in order to avoid a tie-break, Roger would need to serve for it and judging by his past two service games I braced myself for impact. But The Maestro righted the ship as the third time proved to be the charm. Roger finally held and instead of winning the set 6-2, he won it 7-5. Here are the highlights and here are the match stats.kvI have no idea what happened to Roger for those 3 games. Of course what’s important is that ultimately he won. But was that a lapse in form or concentration or both? This is a link to his interview with Sky Sports and below is what he had to say about the match in his presser. Interesting that he said the conditions are quick in Rome. Hmm.

“I had to adjust and react differently in today’s match than yesterday’s match. It was so different, because it’s Kevin and his amazing serve. There’s only so much you can do on the return games. The first thing was not to get frustrated, because I was not seeing where he was serving. But thankfully, I got off to a really good start in both sets. From then on, I could relax almost. I was able to break him four times, which was a really good effort in the quick conditions here in Rome.”

Roger+Federer+Internazionali+BNL+Italia+2015+ilpsrt9EzPnxI didn’t find any comments yet where he addressed this 3 game relapse specifically. I honestly don’t know how to explain it myself and after much deliberation I have come to one conclusion: this drama strangely makes sense this year. Yes, I am blaming it on 2015-itis. Roger has been known for his consistency throughout his career but this year so far has been the exception. He has had big highs and big, unexpected lows and this match encapsulated his trend for this year.

It is entirely possible this pattern will continue throughout the tournament and perhaps all through the year. This means, we will have no idea what to expect from one match to the next. That brings me to today’s match against Berdych who is always a formidable opponent. Now, Roger might lose in straight sets or win in straight sets and anything in between is possible too.

Roger Federer hates roller coaster rides but this year all of us including him have been riding on one since the beginning. My advice is there is no stopping the ride now; we’re in the middle of it, you can’t get off till December I’m afraid. All you can do is make sure the metal bar is holding you down. You can yell in fear when we fall, scream in exhilaration while we go up and try not to throw up when we go through the loops. Hopefully when this crazy ride comes to a stop, we’ll be thankful for having survived the ride and have trophies to boast of – Um, I would like one Roland Garros, one Wimbledon and maybe the World Tour Finals on the side, please? Thanks. And I bet when 2015 ends, you’ll want to go on that crazy ride again for 2016 😀 Allez Roger!

***Photos are Getty Images from the Zimbio.com. Stats from the ATP site.***

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6 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Matches

  1. Great stuff! Love the roller coaster analogy! Here’s hoping we get to soar more than we dip!

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  2. Rome is truly a beautiful place! I hope I would get a chance to visit once in my life 🙂 But the city hosts a Clay court event amidst all packed up clay season- season that I want to be over as soon as possible 😛

    When Roger chose to play in Rome I was very happy and looking forward to it because he is not defending many points from last year and it is a very way to be prepared for RG 🙂 In his 2nd round match Roger looked very much in control of his service games and of the match as it progressed towards 2nd set. I noticed a few hiccups where he constructed the points beautifully but didn’t execute and ended up with UEs 😦

    In the 3rd round even I am not sure what happened to him when he was to serve it out 5-2! But we are into quarters now and that is all that matters 🙂

    Draws are never kind to Roger and his QF,SF and F opponents and matches are all worthy of a final. Birdman/ Mr. Consistent shows lot of confidence and power only when he plays against Roger out if the big 4! 😦 Grrrr… The match could very well be of 3 sets, tough, heated with ups and downs or as Roger puts it-like a circus in need of clowns! I always see Roger raising his games 4 folds as he progresses in each round and I am sure that’s what will happen today 🙂 And who knows? Roger might just shoo away the Birdman in straight set and waltz into semis blazing and fired up! 🙂 COME ON ROGER 😀

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    • Thanks for reading! The draw has been ridiculously tough for Roger, especially when you compare it to Novak’s and Rafa’s this time. And with Andy dropping out, it became even easier for Novak. Roger draw started off tough and keeps getting tougher from now on with each round. Hopefully he’ll put in a good performance that will help him prepare for RG. Thanks for commenting!

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  3. Hello. Well job for Roger Federer in IBI 2015. He didn’t mistake of Madrid. Come on Roger.

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