Complete opposite of the match against Jaziri on Monday as Roger rolled past Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-4 to setup a quarter final clash with Nikolay Davydenko.
After struggling for rhythm in the first round this was a much better display from Federer and despite a couple of moments where he almost relinquished his serve he played far more solidly to make fairly effortless progress.
I was particularly impressed with the backhand and I don’t think I’ve seen him strike it as clean as that in a while, it was razor sharp from the get go and won him plenty of points when it mattered. Let’s take a look at the match…
Federer Starts in Positive Fashion
I felt today it was important for Federer to get a good start so that he could grow into the match, that didn’t necessarily require him to break immediately but just to take care of his own service games without too much hassle. Fortunately that’s exactly what happened as he came out looking in fine fettle and really hitting cleanly off both wings especially the backhand which he was able to hit with some serious pace.
With Roger striking the ball so well it was only fitting that Granollers matched him early and the Spaniard was serving with real consistency and power that I didn’t expect to be honest. He’s a clay courter by trade but I guess the fact he plays a lot of doubles has helped him develop his all round game and serve placement on the quicker courts.
At 3-2 Roger fashioned 3 break points and converted at the first time of asking with a sweet forehand passing shot down the line that flew off the middle of the racket.
He held comfortably in the next game and served it out to 15 in his next service game to take the first set 6-3.
Granollers Hangs in There
With a 1 set cushion Federer was able to play quite freely and made a clear effort to approach the net as often as possible. Granollers also started playing very aggressively too which made for some entertaining tennis from both guys.
The Spaniard is quite a good volleyer himself so he was also pressing to get the net too and take initiative; it’s not often you see two guys both trying to finish points at the net and thats good to see not quite pure net rushing from a bygone era but the closest we’re going to get so may as well make the most of it!
I think it was a smart move from Roger to come in as often as possible. Backing himself to end the points with a volley rather than to have to keep coming up with Nadal like passing shots on an ultra quick courts puts the odds in his favour as far as I’m concerned.
At 2-2 Federer had another break point, Granollers saved it with a big serve to make deuce and then saved another but Roger finally capitalised to break at the third time of asking to take what ultimately became a decisive lead.
After that there were a couple of hairy moments on Roger’s serve at 3-2 and then again at 4-3 where he had to save break points of his own but he did so with aplomb before eventually serving it out comfortably to take the match 6-3 6-4. Routine.
Thoughts on the Match
From my point of view this was a much better match than the Jaziri one, I thought Fed looked a lot more comfortable out there and more assured in his ground strokes. There were a couple of moments where his arm looked a bit tense again today but he didn’t drop serve once and was by far the better player throughout both sets.
The Federer serve wasn’t firing on all cylinders but it was a definite improvement from Monday’s match and he made 60% of his first serves. Off the ground he was very effective though and hit some really nice winners from both wings, the forehand had a couple of wild moments but overall I think this was a much cleaner and more effective performance. If he improves by the same margin for his next match against Davydenko then I think he has a good chance of making the finals here. I like it when he plays aggressively and isn’t afraid to come in even when the approach shot isn’t peRFect.
I think I was sharper today, I had a clearer plan. I knew what I could and couldn’t do. So that automatically carves out sort of the things you might want to attempt. I was a bit more confident overall. I knew what I wanted to do and I was able to do it, so I’m happy.
The peRFect Tennis Point of the Match
Sweet retreival skills and improvisation from the GOAT.
Predictions vs. Davydenko
Next up for Fed is Nikolay Davydenko who I predicted would meet Roger in my Dubai Draw Analysis post earlier in the week.
Roger leads the H2H 18-2 and beat the Russian comfortably just a few weeks ago at the Australian Open Round of 64.
I think Davydenko will be a sterner test than he was in Melbourne especially on the faster surface so Roger will have to serve really well to win as many free points as possible.
If he can serve well and makes sure he gets enough of his own return of serves in play then I think it will pan out like 90% of the matches between these two have – a victory for Roger that featured some highly entertaining tennis.
I’ll go for a 7-5 6-2 win which will see Federer through to the semi finals where he’ll most likely meet Berdych who’s playing Tursunov in the Quarter Finals. That match is a repeat of the Marseilles Semi Final last week where Berdych won easily. Tursunov is on a mini revival but I think the outcome will be the same as last time so the semi final could be very interesting if Fed makes it. It’s about time he got one over on Berdshit that’s for sure. Allez!