Friday, August 30, 2019

Roger Federer rights the ship and wins in straights to reach U.S. Open 4th round

There was no slow start for Roger Federer on Friday, as the Swiss soared into the Round of 16 at the US Open.

After conceding the opening set in both his first and second round victories, Federer ensured those initial struggles were an anomaly. He ousted Daniel Evans 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 to open Day 5 on Arthur AsheStadium.

"Sometimes you just have to trust your team and your warm-up, everything you've done for so long," Federer told Brad Gilbert of ESPN. "Maybe also Danny wasn't feeling it today. He played yesterday so maybe that was a competitive advantage for me. But I was able to play beautiful tennis today under a beautiful sky.

"I definitely think this is playing much faster than at night and even indoors. That's the key to winning here and staying around, to adjust to wind, heat and humidity. It makes the ball travel differently and I was able to manage it well."

Federer was the stronger player from the baseline, with his forehand ripping through the court in perfect, sunny conditions. He triumphed after a mere one hour and 19 minutes, launching 48 winners, including 10 aces. Moreover, Federer won 80 per cent of first serve points and 70 per cent on his second delivery.

“I had spoken to the team and we just said… We’re not going to overplay in the beginning. Take care of your serves. If he can smash winners, that's too good,” Federer said in his post-match press conference. “Over time, I got very comfortable and very confident. It's a good feeling to have after the last couple of matches.”

The five-time champion (2004-08) is into the Round of 16 for the 18th consecutive year. He has not missed the second week of the US Open since his debut appearance in 2000. Federer improved to 88-13 overall at Flushing Meadows.

"I think what matters the most for me is that I am in the [fourth] round, after those two slow starts. Give myself another opportunity to do better, and I did,” Federer said. “You almost tend to forget what happened and you move forward.”

Evans admitted that was outgunned and outclassed. "Obviously I didn't play my best today, but he got on top of me early and it was difficult. I guess he has every shot, so it's not ideal to have an opponent that has every shot.

"I think he won 92%, I saw on the board, of his first serves, and that's not good for me. So I just couldn't get in his games, and getting up on the serve, he returned well when I got my serve in. But no free points was tough, as well."

Federer was on the front foot from the start, breaking for 4-2 behind a sublime drop volley winner and a blasted backhand pass. Showtime Federer was in full flow, leaping for a spinning overhead smash in the next game. And he would streak to an early lead in the second set, breaking to love in the fourth game.

It was a clinical performance from the Basel native. A wayward approach from Evans gave Federer a break to open the third set, and while the Brit would draw level in the next game, it wasn't enough. The 38-year-old did not allow his opponent to establish any rhythm, eventually crossing the finish line with a service winner.

Federer, who qualified for a 17th Nitto ATP Finals with a first-round victory over Sumit Nagal, also prevailed in four sets in a second-round win over Damir Dzumhur. Against Evans, he improved to 3-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head, defeating the Brit at three of the four Grand Slams. He also triumphed at Wimbledon in 2016 and earlier this year at the Australian Open.

The World No. 3 will next face 15th seed David Goffin, who beat 2017 semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain 7-6(5), 7-6(9), 7-5. The Belgian hit 52 winners and won 76 per cent (19/25) of his trips to the net.

Goffin trails Federer 1-8 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. Goffin recorded his lone victory two years ago during the semi-finals of the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Roger Federer overcomes another slow start in his 100th match at U.S. Open

Third seed Roger Federer shook off a slow start against Damir Dzumhur in their second-round clash on Wednesday at the US Open, rounding into form to produce a 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 victory.

The Swiss, competing in his 100th US Open match (87-13), remained flawless in second-round matches in New York (19-0). Federer was made to work once again, having also dropped the opening set in his first-round clash on Monday against Indian qualifier Sumit Nagal. The five-time US Openchampion hadn't won from a set down in consecutive matches since 2014 Dubai (d. Djokovic and Berdych).

Dzumhur hadn’t taken a set off Federer in their two previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, but the World No. 99 in the ATP Rankings was unawed by competing in Arthur Ashe Stadium. The Swiss looked out of sorts in the early stages of the match, hitting eight winners to 17 unforced errors as Dzumhur raised his level in crucial moments.

"He was my idol. He was a person out of the court and on the court I was following... He was definitely, for me, the best player in tennis history," Dzumhur told before his latest clash against Federer. “I just think that I have to get in the match to try to play good, to try to do what I was doing in practice... If I play a really good game, I can always make trouble for any player."

After pondering his form at the changeover, Federer came out in full flight to start the second set. Pinning Dzumhur to the baseline with increased pace on both wings, the Swiss leapt in the air after rifling a forehand winner to hold serve for a 4-1 lead. Three games later, a double fault from the Bosnian levelled the match after one hour of play.

The third-set scoreline didn’t reflect the numerous challenges posed to Federer throughout. Dzumhur held at least one game point in five of the nine games, but Federer continued to come up with the goods - a backhand passing shot in the second game, a cheeky drop shot in the fourth game and a forehand winner in the seventh game - to keep bringing the score back to deuce. The Swiss took a commanding lead with an ace, marking his 43rd total winner of the match.

Federer scored an early break at 1-1 in the fourth set and the slight advantage was all he needed. A strong first serve from the Swiss wrapped up the match after two hours and 21 minutes.

Next up for Federer is No. 25 seed Lucas Pouille of France or Brit Daniel Evans. Federer is 2-0 against both men in their respective FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalries and hasn't dropped a set to either player.

Dropping the first set in 2 matches is worrisome for any Fed fan. But I'm still hoping it means he will improve as the week goes on.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Roger Federer overcomes a rusty slow start on opening night in New York

Roger Federer did not get off to an ideal start to his pursuit of a sixth US Open title Monday evening. But the third seed won, and that's what counts.

The five-time champion rallied past Nagal 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 in two hours and 30 minutes, guaranteeing a record-extending 17th qualification for the Nitto ATP Finals, the season finale at which he has triumphed six times.

Federer has now won his first-round match in 62 straight major appearances, improving his US Open record to 86-13 as he begins chasing his first trophy in New York since 2008.

His opponent, Nagal, certainly took advantage of the opportunity in the biggest match of his career to date. The World No. 190 walked onto Arthur Ashe Stadium Monday evening for his first Grand Slam main draw match without having ever earned a tour-level victory. But the 22-year-old showed little fear against Federer, who made 19 unforced errors in losing the first set.

But Nagal did not prove to have the weaponry to take the racquet out of Federer's hands. And once the Swiss found his range, he was a train rolling downhill on opening night at the year's final major.

After staving off three deuces in the first game of the second set, the 38-year-old battled hard to gain an advantage, converting his fourth break point of the next game to take the lead. Federer quickly extended his lead to 5-0, before clinching the 42-minute set when Nagal launched a forehand long.

Federer would break immediately in the next two sets, putting constant pressure on the qualifier, who told before the match, "I've wanted this. I was telling my friends this yesterday. When people told me that Federer plays a qualifier, I was thinking how much I've always wanted this."

Nagal showed his fighting spirit in the fourth set, breaking back for 2-2 with an inside out forehand passing shot that blew past Federer at net. But this year's Dubai, Miami and Halle champion earned another break in the next game when the Indian missed an inside-out forehand wide, and he never looked back. Federer overcame four break points — including a 0/40 deficit — as he served for the match to move on.

The key proved to be Federer's pressure. Once he cut down his errors after the first set, he kept on top of Nagal, winning 33/50 net points compared to 7/17 for the qualifier.

Federer had lost a set in his first-round match at the US Open just once since 2003 (2017 vs. Tiafoe). The 20-time Grand Slam champion has not fallen in the opening round at a Grand Slam since 2003 Roland Garros.

Damir Dzumhur, who beat French qualifier Elliot Benchetrit 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-0, awaits in the next round. Federer will take confidence knowing he defeated the three-time ATP Tour champion in straight sets at Roland Garros and Wimbledon in 2015.

I expected him to be rusty having only played a couple of hard court matches coming into this, but oh boy was he ever.

This is what we call winning ugly.

After his post match interview Roger said he played rusty much like his beard (which is more of a stubble really).

But I'm happy he's shaving it off for his next match.

He looks much better without it. And weirdly always plays better too.

After a performance like this, things can only improve.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Roger Federer could have a chance to avenge Djokovic Wimbledon loss at U.S. Open

Roger Federer has been drawn in the top half of the US Open draw, setting up a potential semi-final showdown with top seed Novak Djokovic. The Swiss will play a qualifier in the first round and could meet 15th seed David Goffin in the fourth round. He is seeded to meet former finalist Kei Nishikori in the quarter-finals.

Djokovic will play Roberto Carballes Baena in the first round and could play former champion Stan Wawrinka or Kevin Anderson in the fourth round.

Nadal opens his campaign against Australian John Millman, who last year stunned Roger Federer in the fourth round. Nadal could meet fellow Spanish lefty Fernando Verdasco in the third round and John Isner or former champion Marin Cilic in the fourth round.

For the second straight year, Canadians Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov will meet in the first round. Eighth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas opens against Russian Andrey Rublev, who upset Roger Federer last week in Cincinnati.

Federer won five consecutive US Opens from 2004-08 and built a 40-match winning streak at the event before his surprise defeat to Juan Martin del Potro in the 2009 final at Flush Meadows.

Djokovic is the defending champion and also won the US Open in 2011 and '15. Nadal is also a three-time US Open champion, taking the title in 2010, '13 and '17.

Speaking after his late-morning practice session with Dominic Thiem Federer told ESPN that he would be otherwise occupied when the draw is made. "I don't watch the draws, I don't like it," Federer said. "I'd rather just get through it and see where I fall. Players getting through to the quarters or the semis, that's really for you guys to debate. My focus really lies in the first couple of rounds."

Not the worst draw he's ever had here that's for sure. If he gets past the first few rounds he could play his way into it. Despite only having played 2 matches on hard courts thus far. 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Roger Federer suffers shot defeat in Cincinnati 3rd round but says he'll be fine for U.S. Open

Roger Federer endured one of the most surprising losses of his career on Thursday at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, falling to rising Russian qualifier Andrey Rublev in just 62 minutes. But after his outstanding season, the seven-time champion sees little reason to ring the alarms in his first tournament since Wimbledon.

"I played 45 matches this year, so I think I should be fine,” said Federer.

Federer looked out of sorts from the start on Stadium Court, missing shots that would normally be clean winners and converting only seven of his 19 trips to the net. Part of his uneasiness in the match had to do with facing a brand new opponent, a rarity for the Swiss at this stage of his career. But Federer praised Rublev's clutch tennis as the main reason for the end result.

"If I play Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic, I know more or less what they are going to do or can do. That's different with a player you play for the first time," said Federer. "It's maybe a small advantage to have over us, but regardless, you've still got to hit the corners, hit the lines, keep it going. He did exactly that. He was really perfect today. It was a great performance."

After 21 years on the ATP Tour, Federer has a keen eye for which players have the potential to reach the highest levels of the game. He was impressed by what he saw in the 21-year-old Russian, who only lost four points on serve in the second set and dictated the tempo of most of their baseline exchanges.

"You need an opponent that maybe lets you get by some tougher moments, but he didn't do that," said Federer. "He was super clean. Defence, offence, serving well. Didn't give me anything. He was everywhere. It was tough for me, but an excellent match by him. I was impressed... I think I just have to play better overall to hang with him."

The Swiss will now turn his attention to the US Open, where he looks to win a sixth title and his first since 2008. In a season that has seen him win three titles (Miami, Halle and Dubai) in addition to runner-up finishes in Wimbledon and Indian Wells, he believes an extra few days of rest and recovery could be just as beneficial as match play.

“It’s also very important for me to see that I'm injury-free and I'm feeling good. Regardless of the outcome of this week, I'm happy I came here,” said Federer. “I had good practice sessions. I worked very hard coming into Cincinnati and in that little season we had since Wimbledon, so I can maybe also utilise a couple of days off. I’m going to train, do exactly what I need to do for the US Open and that’s it. It’s fairly simple, but I’ve got to work hard.”

I was going to chuck this one up to lack of match play but that's never been an issue for Roger, so I'm going with facing a first time opponent and playing in the day time. 

Or Roger simply having a really off day. 

It's too bad because I no longer have anyone to root for in Cincinnati now. Even all my fave WTA players are gone (Halep has just lost to Keys in 3). 

So yeah, bye Cincinnati see you next year. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Roger Federer back to business in Cincinnati opener

Roger Federer has won more titles at the Western & Southern Open than anyone else with seven. And on Tuesday evening, the Swiss superstar made a good start towards Cincinnati title No. 8.

In his first match as a 38-year-old, rain nor Juan Ignacio Londero could stop Federer, who took a 6-3, 6-4 decision in the second round, winning 83 per cent of his second-serve points in a 61-minute match that was delayed by about an hour during the second set due to a brief downpour.

"[I’m] very happy. I thought it was tricky with the rain delay and everything, but I’m happy to be back on the courts,” Federer said. “It’s totally different to the grass courts and the clay courts we have seen, so this is the beginning of a long, long hard-court swing. So it’s nice to start off with a win."

This was Federer’s first match since letting two championship points slip in the Wimbledon final against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic. The third seed is pursuing his 29th ATP Masters 1000 title.

The World No. 3 got off to a flying start against this year's Cordoba Open champion, breaking to love when the Cincinnati debutant double faulted into the net at 15/40 in his first service game. Federer quickly raced to secure that advantage, holding for 3-0, and he didn't look back from there in the opener. The father of four struck seven aces and lost just five service points in the first set, which took just 22 minutes

Londero shrugged off his early nerves and held in his five service games after getting broken to start the encounter. And he successfully slowed down the Federer train before rain suspended play at 2-2, 15/15 on the Argentine's serve at the second set.

But in search of his first Top 10 win and Masters 1000 victory, Londero could not maintain his momentum. When the players returned to the court, Federer broke serve immediately thanks to a Londero double fault, and that was the only advantage he needed. The Swiss saved the only break point he faced in the next game with a half volley drop shot winner.

"Conditions are fast. We barely had any rallies in the first set. It was just bang-bang tennis," Federer said. "He had a good forehand. He hides it well with the grip, and because I have never played him before, it's hard to see the release happening. I think he actually can play very well on the faster hard court. He moves well, can take the ball early. He has the option to go back, but maybe here it's just a tad too fast. "

Despite missing out on a match point on the World No. 55's serve, Federer served out his victory, finishing it off with a jamming body serve that went unreturned.

"I liked what I saw. I think he's going to have a good career. He's a good fighter. I saw especially a good fight from him against Rafa at the French Open. And even though he was down two sets to love and a break and you think, 'Well, you know, it's over', he kept believing and kept fighting. This is a quality I respect a lot in a player. That's why I knew it was going to be tough maybe today."

Federer leads the ATP Tour this season in winning percentage according to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, emerging victorious in 88.6 per cent of his matches. If the 102-time tour-level titlist makes the semi-finals, he will finish the week with the ATP Tour lead in matches won, passing Rafael Nadal’s 41.

Did You Know?

Federer lost his opening match in Cincinnati in three of his first four appearances at the tournament. But since it last happened in 2004, the Swiss has not dropped his first match here once, making the final in his past three visits.

Way to bounce back Roger. Good to have you back Swiss man!. I swear he deals better with tough loses than we (his fans) do :D. 

Loving the new outfit too :).

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Roger Federer talks about what he's been up to since that Wimbledon loss

Most people would be despondent after not converting two championship points to lose a Wimbledon final. Roger Federer went caravaning with his family the next day.

That isn’t to say the Swiss is immune to the magnitude of what happened against Novak Djokovic in London. He admitted to having “flashbacks” when he began training for this week’s Western & Southern Open. But after 21 years on tour, Federer has learned to treat matches as individual moments. After a family vacation and some relatively light training sessions, he’s only looking forward as he seeks an eighth crown in Cincinnati.

”You look back for a few days while you decompress what happened. There are flashbacks of the final, both the good moments and bad moments, when you go back to the practice court,” said Federer. “Those usually go away after the first couple of sessions and then it’s just getting ready for Cincinnati.

”We went caravaning the day after my Wimbledon and enjoyed Switzerland. I relaxed for a bit and then started practising, fitness first and then tennis after. It’s more about coming in fresh for this tournament and not killing myself during the practices.”

Cincinnati is Federer’s most successful ATP Masters 1000 event. He’s made it to the championship match in his past three trips and reached at least the quarter-finals in his past eight appearances. The friendly Midwest atmosphere suits Federer’s relaxed approach and makes him feel at home from the moment he steps on the grounds of the Lindner Family Tennis Center.

“It’s peaceful, quiet and easy-going. We have enough tournaments in big cities, so it’s a nice way for me to start the summer,” said Federer. “You also have these great fans who come here for the game and nothing else. It reminds me of Indian Wells in that sense, so that’s one thing which is cool about this event.”

Although Federer will be focused on his own game, he’ll also have an eye on Andy Murray’s singles comeback this week. The Swiss famously won the 2017 Australian Open in his first event after missing eight months to recover from left knee surgery. Federer admitted to feeling optimistic before his first match that year in Melbourne and believes expectations are often set before even walking out on court.

“You do have a sense of how things will go before your first match,” said Federer. “Are you crushing everybody in the practice sets or losing more often than not? How’s the pain and your movement? It’s obviously not something you can tell other players or the press, but you know if there’s a chance to have a big run or if you’re just happy being back on Tour and maybe winning a match or two.”

More than two years after that run in Melbourne, Federer continues to defy the odds. At an age where almost all of his peers that he started on Tour with have retired, the 37-year-old sits firmly at No. 3 in the ATP Rankings and could climb even higher by the end of the season. He’s not willing to put a timeline on how long he will keep playing, but with a 38-5 record and three ATP Tour titles to his name already this season, there’s little reason to stop.

“I’ve been consistent across all the surfaces. I haven’t had a back issue in two years and was obviously happy with how my knee recovered [in 2016],” said Federer. “I don’t know how long I’m going to be playing, but I’m very happy with my level of play and it shows in the results.”