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Federer Overcomes Benneteau Scare at Wimbledon

Federer Overcomes Benneteau Scare at Wimbledon

Phew, what a crazy match this one was! Before the match yesterday I thought I’d spend more time in this post talking about the Rosol Nadal thriller and how it opened up the draw even further as I fully expected Roger to routine the Frenchman in 3 straight sets. Clearly that wasn’t to be the case.

Enter Julien Benneteau…

Even though Roger lost the last time these 2 played at the Paris Indoor Masters, I thought the Roger of the first 2 rounds was going to show up and school Benneteau but mid way through the first set it was apparent Fed was in sleep mode, making errors, looking disinterested and generally playing in a lackadaisical manner. Benneteau isn’t renound as a threat at the top level, he’s consistent in all areas but he’s ranked down at 30 in the world and hasn’t won a title at ATP level. After Roger dropped the first set I thought Fed in 4 was a done deal and it looked like it was going that way after he secured an early break but oh no he decided to hand it straight back and let Benneteau right back into the set. At 6-5 Roger had 3 set points only for Benneteau to save them with big serving and crunching backhands. The tie break started badly for Roger as he lost the first point and Benneteau held his nerve to take a 2 set to love lead. It was crazy, 2 sets to love down in the third round of a slam on his favourite court, practically unbelievable.

Wake up Roger

Even though Roger was still well below par and down two sets to love, I still felt like he was in the match and it’d only take a couple of points for his game to click and Benneteau’s level to drop.

In the third Rogers forehand suddenly came to life and he was able to dictate play for the first time in the match, he broke twice to take the set 6-2 and I thought from that point onwards he would produce more of the same to pull off the comeback in 5 sets.

4th Set Torture

After moving up a gear in the third, I thought Roger would win the 4th comfortably, perhaps for the loss of only 1 or 2 games. It looked possible when he had Benneteau at 0-40 early in the set only to waste all 3 break points and give the Frenchman another confidence boost just as he was on the verge of cracking. This set was awful to watch as Roger was walking such a fine line, he allowed Benneteau to come within a game of the match at 4-5 and even slipped to 15-30 at 5-6 before taking the 4th into another tie breaker. The only good news was Roger was serving well under pressure which I think saved him in the breaker, he got off to a good start with a mini break, only to lose it, he then had another and lost it. He then had set point at 6-5 only for Benneteau to save it with an ace. Anyway, just watch it below!

This breaker was exceptionally tense, you felt like Roger was the better player but he was being wasteful and allowing Benneteau back in. In a tie break it’s almost a lottery and Roger was flirting with disaster throughout it. When he finally won it, the relief on my part was huge.

5th Set Formality

After Roger won the 4th set breaker I knew the match was over for Benneteau. If he was going to win it had to be in 4, he was looking tired and Roger was finally finding form and had gained a lot of confidence leveling the match up.

Roger got the early break and by this point Benneteau was physically drained, he received treatment at the changeover for an injury and after that Roger breezed through it in 26 minutes to take the match 4-6 6-7 6-2 7-6 6-1.

Oh my God, it was brutal. Bit of luck in my side maybe. I fought till the very end. I tried in the third, fourth and fifth just to stay alive – in the fourth it was so close, Julien was playing amazingly. When you’re down two sets to love you have to stay calm even though it’s hard because people are freaking out. You obviously don’t have many lives left out there and you just try to play tough and focus point to point. Indoors is not what we’re quite used to on grass and I’m happy I got this one out of the way

What does this match tell us?

Well once again some Fed fans are never satisfied, even after he pulled off an immense comeback some people were saying this is bad and whenever Roger goes to 5 early in a tournament he loses. I think that’s bollocks. Sometimes Roger deserves criticism when he plays shit matches, but this one wasn’t, these are exactly the type of matches that signify Roger is playing great stuff, he managed to pull this match out of the bag and fight his way through and that’s why he has a chance of winning this tournament.

This is just one of those bad matches/close calls that every player has in a tournament and if they are able to get out of them then their confidence is at an all time high and it bodes well for the rest of the tournament. How many times have we seen Nadull pull through matches he should have lost to end up winning a slam? Countless.

This match tells us Post US Open 2011 Roger is still here and able to produce the goods when it matters.

Predictions vs. Malisse

After going 5 yesterday, I fully expect Fed to come through this one in straight sets. He’s 9-1 in the H2H and hasn’t lost to Malisse since their first meeting back in 1999. Those of you who have followed Roger for a while will remember they met at Wimbledon in 2001 and that match went to 5 sets but I can’t see that happening.

Malisse is talented and made the Semi’s at Wimbledon 10 years ago but he’s 1 year Rogers senior and now Roger has all the confidence of his win against Benneteau I see JesusFed turning up and teaching Malisse a lesson.

Rosol Defeats Nadal in 5 Set Thriller

This post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the epic match on Thursday between Lukas Rosol and Nadal. This was such a great game to watch and Rosol played the match of his life.

I found this match great for 3 reasons, Dull lost, Rosol intimidated him, Nadal used gamesmanship to the max and showed his true colours yet again as you can see in the video below.

Video removed :(

I’m so glad this was broadcast on global television for everyone to see what a complete ass Nadal is and how he employs every dirty tactic in the book to try unsettle his opponents. Time and time again I’ve said Nadal is a cheat and how he comes across in Press Conferences isn’t the way to draw any conclusions because he’s heavily media trained and it’s easy to give the answers people want to hear so he appears all humble. The guys a tennis fraud, I appreciate his athleticism and intensity but it’s about time Journalists and blind worshipers stopped pandering to him and realised he’s not the ambassador for the game everyone thinks.

What makes it even sweeter in this instance was that Rosol knew exactly what Nadal was trying to do and used it to his advantage, he zoned himself in, you could see the fire in his eyes and in that fifth set you could tell his sole focus was to beat Nadal. I personally think Rosol knows Nadal’s true colours and made it his mission to prove to people that dirty tactics don’t always triumph. That fifth set was trance like tennis and the way he served it out was just epic. By the end of it, it was Nadal who was intimidated and it was poetic justice.

Oh and it also means Roger won’t have to get past him in the final. Allez!

About Jonathan

Huge fan of Roger Federer - I'll pretty much try and watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or tweeting about tennis I play regularly myself and use this blog to share my thoughts on Fed and tennis in general.

59 comments

  1. very interesting , it was breath taking match , thanks God that the maestro came back , what do you think about djoko & murry , I think murry is tough now , americans remaining are tough too .

    • I know, that 4th set breaker was the worst bit. I think Djoker Fed semi final will happen.

      Hope Murray loses, I can’t have that guy winning a slam, it’d be the death of tennis!

  2. Federer proved why he is the GOAT when he won the 4th set! Reminds me of the ’08 final against Rafa when he won the 4th set tiebreak!!! Absolutely clutch! Federer held his nerve! I love Federer and love him more when he comes through in the worse situation. Nice post!!!

  3. Not tO mention that I almost had a heart attack at 6-6 in the tiebreak!!! Wow: Please don’t do that to me anytime soon again Roger!!!!!!

    • Tie break was the worst bit, kept handing the mini break back!

    • Sid TheCookieThief

      Have you forgotten Roger trailing 2-6 in the second set tiebreak vs. Roddick at Wimby 09? I was verging on depression :)

      • True, Roddick is a memorable one, that bad volley miss from Andy and then that flicked backhand into the open court to save another set point. Awesome.

        Even the Del Potro one in Dubai earlier this year was a crazy one.

        In fact this year alone there’s been some awesome ones, Benneteau, Roanic, Del Potro all great tie breaks where he came good!

  4. Pffff… WHAT A MATCH!
    I was so nervous I entered twitter to see what FedFans thought about that match.

    I don’t know… That 4th-set tiebreak was painful to watch, but who cares, the man got the job done.

    After Rafito’s loss, this victory is very important, Fed showed us how you handle those situations.

    But we have to congratulate Benny, he played the match of his life, great match.

    I hope Federer can find his Madrid form, or even his R1 and R2 form, you can do it, KING!

    • I know after the third set you felt Fed would storm back and win it easily. But letting the 4th go to a breaker was near suicide. So glad he was clutch in it.

      Allez les suisse!

  5. Ridiculous match. I was so close to pissing my pants for so many times while watching. Glad he showed the world what makes him the best ever and turned the whole thing around. That should give him a confidence boost and carry him all the way to the final stage. And since Nadal is out cold: now is the time, allez Roger!

    Btw.: Nadal-sweeping Rosol just got crushed by Kohli, who beat Nadal in Halle. Maybe Kohli is up for a surprise next week?

  6. i like Murray better than Dickivic and Nadull

  7. Sid TheCookieThief

    By far, the toughest match I’ve played. A box of cereal, half gallon of milk and orange juice, and not to mention, an elevated heart rate. But it was all worth it in the end :)

    • No cookies? haha.

      Ryveta and philadelphia was my snack of choice through the match!

      • Sid TheCookieThief

        LOL Interestingly, it was General Mills Cookie Crisps that I was gobbling! I’m going stock up on a few more of those (Getting a bit superstitious now, am I?) :)

  8. I’m not shocked that Rosol lost to Kohl. PK hits flatter than Rafa and has a killer slice on grass, and Rosol is tall. Rafa’s looping spinners went right into his strike zone, but Kohl’s balls did not. Plus, there was the mental fatigue and he played doubles yesterday as well. No doubt he was spent.

    • Seems like it was a flash in the pan…

      I thought he might have gotten a set of Kohli. Maybe Philip can make the QF now, I hope so, his game is good to watch.

  9. Thoughts on Nadal

    Nadal relies very, very heavily on his incredible defense. He can usually wear out big hitters by absorbing their pace until they get tired and start making errors. When that doesn’t work, he doesn’t have a lot of other options.

    This time Rosol didn’t get tired and he didn’t make mistakes. He kept the points very short, took the ball early, and kept blasting. Nadal was unable to get into the rallies and could only watch the ball fly past him.

    In years gone by he might have won a match like this one; he did win similar five-setters against Haase and Petzschner in Wimbledon 2010. But as he gets older, he will lose just a tiny bit of speed, and that makes him just a tiny bit more vulnerable to the power players, especially in early rounds.

    The result is a slightly increased likelihood of early upsets. They will happen a little more often as he gets older. Not much more often–but then, there are only four majors in a year. An early loss at one means there are only three other chances to win one that year.

    There is one point that the author did not mention, and that is how Rosol handled Nadal’s gamesmanship. Nadal tried to slow the pace of the match by complaining about how quickly Rosol was serving, and then bumped into Rosol in an attempt to disrupt his concentration.

    Many times players have let themselves be distracted by Nadal’s MTOs, which always seem to come at the most inopportune moments for his opponents, his fistpumps, etc, and Nadal has turned a lot of matches around this way. Petzschner in particular was rather skeptical of the fifth-set MTO Nadal took in their 2010 match.

    Rosol was prepared for this (he said afterwards that “I knew [Nadal] would try to take my concentration”) and did not let this affect him; he simply continued blasting away.

    After this victory, other players may seek to emulate Rosol’s response to Nadal’s mind games, and that means Nadal will have a little more trouble inducing them to melt down when they are in a winning position.

    Finally, Nadal’s exit creates a vacuum that the other top players will be eager to fill. By winning Wimbledon, Federer/Djokovic could virtually cement the year-end #1.

    Conversely, Nadal’s chances of regaining the #1 have taken a significant hit. He must reach the USO final just to keep the points he had from last year, and has never been a force during the post-USO fall hard court run.

    So this does affect his season adversely. And next season, he will be one year older and have to fight harder to regain momentum that he had lost, while one of his rivals will be in a much stronger position.

    EDIT: Just to let everyone know this comment was originally left by a guy called Steve on the following article at Bleacher Report: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1242002-rafa-nadal-why-his-second-round-wimbledon-exit-is-not-a-sign-of-things-to-come. I don’t mind people copying comments here as long as they make sure to leave proper attribution and don’t try and pass it off as their own work/opinion.

    • Hey Anzhit,

      I just figured out from Ruans Blog this comment is copied, if you’re going to do that please make sure you credit the original author and don’t pass it off as your own. I don’t mind you adding others peoples opinions here as it adds to the debate but please attribute it accordingly.

  10. I recently came to your blog on a recommendation from Ruan’s and am equally impressed with your analysis of Roger’s performance. I appreciate your insight on Roger as well as tennis overall. This match was excruciating to watch and by far the most difficult to sit through. I almost turned it off several times but felt like I’d somehow be abandoning Roger. So I stuck it out. Big sigh of relief and more fuel for belief in the champ Federer is! Also, it is great to see that I’m not alone in my disdain for Nadal! I can’t verbalize it as well as you and others do but FINALLY more people will see him for what he is. Thanks again for a great post!

    • Thanks Wendy, glad you enjoy my blog!

      Haha I know, after he won the third I thought he was odds on to win, but in the 4th he kept letting Benneteau have a chance of crossing the line. It was hard to watch and started annoying me.

      I think most people who are genuine fans of tennis dislike Nadal because they see him for who is really is. It’s only part time fans that see his name in the winners column, jump on the bandwagon treat him as god. Of course, in society these days (especially in the UK) most journalists are scared to have an opinion on things too so really just treat Nadal like a King which in turn influences everyone elses opinion of him.

      Jonathan

  11. This was a real nailbiter of a match – several times I just screamed at the tv! At the end, although Julien’s legs had obviously gone, I noticed that Roger gave a little grimace of pain; he was hurting a tad too! At least, though, he’s had the weekend to rest. Hopefully the next match won’t be so “brutal”!
    Thanks Jonathan!
    Allez Roger!!

    • I missed that…

      To be honest I thought Roger was moving great in the fifth set and actually his level improved as the match went on. Not sure it was that physical a match either so I’m sure he will be raring to go on Monday.

      • Oh yes, I too thought Roger was moving so much better in the fifth set than the first two, but when he was walking towards the net to congratulate Julien he seemed to grimace – however I’ve just watched the end again and now I’m not sure! Perhaps it was just an extra hard sniff! :)) I was probably being too sensitive after 3 hrs or so of anxiety!! Looking forward now to tomorrow.

      • Sid TheCookieThief

        I think in the last set, it really wasn’t Roger’s movement that improved, it was Benneteau’s performance that declined. Roger got more time and hence it seemed he was moving well. I told a friend when Roger was down 0-2 that the fourth set will decide the outcome. The fifth, if it went that far, would be a mere formality. Indeed, that’s how it was (thankfully!)

      • I thought once Fed won the third he was in pole position but that 4th set was crazy when he wasted 3 break points. Luckily Roger 3.0 was on court and dug out the win!

  12. I was surprised when I saw Nadal do such a thing. Reading this post made me think that Nadal is a complete jerk, but I can’t really say anything because I don’t know him in person.

    What else did he do?

    • What didn’t he do?

      Bumped into him, moaned at the umpire he was moving when Nadal was trying to serve, complained he was breathing too much??

      Rosol serves an ace and Nadal says he isn’t ready. You play to the servers speed.

      Taking 27 seconds between points. Towelling off when Rosol served an ace after he’d towelled off seconds before.

      I don’t need to know Nadal is person to know his personality, his actions are more than enough of an indicator.

      • Sid TheCookieThief

        I still don’t understand why rabid Nadal fans ignore all this. There is so much evidence of his gamesmanship throughout his career and everyone (well, his fans) just ignore it. What conduct from an 11 time slam winner!

        And Roger makes one comment about Novak’s forehand being lucky (which Novak publicly, on court, admitted was lucky) and everyone is all over Roger for unsporting comments?

        Man reaches 32 straight QF’s (hopefully 33 soon), 29 of 32 SF’s and complains about injury/fatigue a few times and he is not being gracious?

        Jesus! We are surrounded!

      • I don’t think half his fans watch tennis, it’s just because he’s winning things that people follow him. If he was 4 in the world with zero slams nobody would even know who he is.

  13. Funny excerpt from fed’s interview

    Q. So were you worried how much, and so on? And then do you know that today you’ve beaten also a new record, which is you have won 5,459 games in the history in a slam, and you’re beating Agassi who is behind 5,438.
    ROGER FEDERER: You see. That’s you battle out there, you know. (Laughter.)
    Because I knew it. I knew that that record was on the line. I knew that. (Laughter.)
    That’s maybe why I couldn’t get it going early, because it’s such a big record for me. (Laughter.)

    Q. 29 games today, that’s why.
    ROGER FEDERER: I thought playing longer might make me really break it. (Laughter.)
    No, what do you do? I don’t even remember the question. I just remember the record, which was so great, you know. (Laughing.)
    No, the fourth set, yeah, how close it was. I mean, you figure that one service game at least is going to get close. This is where you hope you can clutch serve on the big points, that hopefully he’ll miss a few, but that’s not what you rely on.
    You have to rely on your own strength. I guess we were both at our very best deep into the fourth set, so it felt obviously great. I knew the importance of that particular game, and then also the tiebreak.
    Yeah, obviously I missed a lot of opportunities out there today, but at the same time I also made some big plays when I had to. I tried to stay calm in the moment and in the eye of the storm, really. I was able to come through.
    So it was a fun match to come through, obviously.

  14. Hi Jonathan,

    I found this blog after a recommendation from Ruan. It’s really great over here! I loved your review of Fed’s match. Both you and Ru-an are the two greatest tennis bloggers of all time!

    Just to add to discussion: Do you think Malisse has any chance against Fed today? From what I know, Malisse is a hard hitter and if the roof is up, then Fed may have some difficulties. The key for Roger will be to serve like he did in the last 2 sets against Benneteau. He’s also got to improve his 2nd serve if he wants to beat Novak.

    • Hey Manu, thanks for the kind words!

      Nah I think after the Benneteau match Roger will be on good form and take care of Malisse. I know he can be dangerous but I think Roger knows his game too well and Malisse won’t be able to cause a whole lot of problems. I think he will pull off some really good/attractive shots but no way he’s keeping it up for the duration of a match.

  15. I watched the reply of Nadal and Rosol twice. I was so thrilled that Nadal was beaten that I could not help myself. Nadal just did not know what was happening to him. I think rosol’s biggest win against was rushing Nadal. Other players have bought in to Nadal’s taking all the time he needs. I liked the umpire. He remind Nadal that the server sets the pace. Rafa is not accustomed to officials calling him out on the things he abuses.

    I trust tomorrow Federer does not give us such a scare. I have an 83 year old friend calling me on Friday telling me that Roger would pull it out. Roger fans are of all ages.

    With this one tomorrow Roger

    All players could take notes from Rosol even though he did make lots of mistakes. But he did look great so many times. He made Nadal look like a beginner.

    • Hey Pat,

      Yeah it was awesome that Rosol played the match on his terms and didn’t let Nadals dirty play effect him. I wish more umpires called out his gamesmanship and slow play. But they are too scared.

      I think Fed will take care of Malisse in straights.

  16. Oh by the way why did Rosol often wave his hand in front of his eyes? Was it for concentration?

    • I didn’t notice that? Was it when he was returning? I know he was blowing his fingers a little bit to cool them and get sweat off in between serves…

  17. He was not blowing his fingers. He was just waving his hand across face.

  18. Federer not playing normally….but the way he broke back in the first set….SHIT!

  19. First set Fed. Whew! Must stop watching Roger. Not good for my nerves.

  20. Play delayed.

    Am I the only one over here?

  21. I did notice one thing though. Towards the end of that first set, maybe just after he was broken, Federer certainly became much sharper- his forehand was more penetrating than the 1st few games and his slice found that angle which trapped Malisse. Very, very, odd set.

  22. *Gulp*. 3rd set Malisse. Not cool.

  23. So glad Roger could make it through, especially after getting broken in the first game of set 4. He’s shown amazing fighting qualities in this tournament. This bodes very well for the later stages of the tournament.

  24. What does Nadal’s defeat do to his ranking?

    • Well he’s definitely at Number 3 now… for some reason when I read your comment I was thinking he was number 1 still! If Fed makes the final he goes to 1 and Djoker and Nadal are 2 and 3.

      As for how close he is to being overtaken by Murray I’m not sure.

  25. Hi All,

    Just to add an opinion about Nadal… Pro-Federer supporters are very often lambasted by so-called Nadal fans whenever criticism is levied against their man.It is my opinion that most of the Nadal criticicm is entirely justified, so the problem appears to be delusion amongst his fans as well as too many people taking constructive criticism against him in a very personal manner.I also believe many of his younger fans, both male and female, sadly are not well versed in decency and proper sporting etiquette. But then how are these same young people meant to understand such things when they themselves probably know no better behaviour? And as for the media and match officials pandering to Nadal sends out the absolute wrong massage to all concerned: to the wrongful justification of this behaviour by leaving it unchallenged; by compromising their own integrity by giving in to him; feeding an already bloated ego on the part of Nadal and finally, further exacerbating the already ( mostly ) deluded fans that follow him…

    • Hey Paul,

      Great comment man. It’s about time more people saw Nadals true colours and more people called out is shit antics both on court and off it. He gets away with far too much and nobody bats an eyelid.

      Think you’re right about people following his lead because they don’t know any better. Pity the media can’t do a proper job of it.

  26. Well I hope Murray is beaten to tomorrow I will be pulling for Marty Fish and Brian Baker tomorrow. I am an American lady and usually pull for our gentlemen. They are great guys. I still pull for Roger over everybody.

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