Roger Federer, in the first two rounds of the US Open, only managed to scrape through to the finish line. His play was shoddy in the first round against Tiafoe. Then he would lose two sets to Mikhail Youzhny in the next match who is someone he has utterly dominated in the past. Federer was in physical discomfort in the Montreal final against Zverev; his back was troubling him. And, when Federer was looking out of shape in the first two rounds, I can imagine all the Federer fans were probably trying to make sense out of the situation like…
Image courtesy: By Ash Carter (flickr photo) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons / Modified
At least Roger avoided losing. And, he was to play Feliciano Lopez in the next round. There was some history to this matchup though. They played in the fourth round of the Open in 2007 where Roger overcame his inspired opponent in four sets with the score being 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4. Lopez was able to tackle Roger’s serve well in the first set of that match.
The third round was going to be at least a bit tricky, wasn’t it? The 31st seed, Feliciano, has a classic game. He wields a powerful serve and cool volleys. Roger was going to be tested. He would have to be agile and quick especially when Lopez would be at the net. He would have to play some passing shots. It was not going to be easy with a possibly sore back that he had. And, he had already played two back-to-back five setters.
Roger had said about his fatigue level,”I might feel more tired than I normally would going into the third round, but that’s OK.”
This match was going to reveal many unknowns concerning his game which are in fact, powerful factors for what happens in the remainder of the tournament.
Roger looked quick on his feet right away. He was hitting flat. He landed 77% of his first serves and won 88% of those points in the first set. He won the first set 6-3. In the second set, Roger’s first serve percentage dropped to 39% but he maintained a good win-rate on first serve points. Besides, he converted 2 of his 3 break points in that set. So, he took the set 6-3. He played decent tennis in the third set, winning 78% of his net points. He won the set 7-5.
Roger won 6-3, 6-3, 7-5 after 1 hour 46 minutes of improved performance.
Roger won 85% of his first serve points which was really great. The other positives from this match are +16 winner-unforced error differential, 42% break point conversion and 41% return points won.
Lopez won 78% of his first serve points.
It was a much better day at office for Roger. Finally, he gets an easy straight sets victory. It was very much needed after the tough 5-setters. Although he was good overall, the consistency on serve is not there. He will have to step it up against better guys, especially from the quarter-final onwards. The back injury did not seem to be bothering him a lot. But, a little bit is probably still there. The form actually is getting better.
Federer will play Philipp Kohlschreiber on Monday for a quarter-final berth. He will be the favourite to win that. It is also exciting to think that the Fedal duo have to win only two more matches each to make the first ever Fedal US Open match a reality. Yes, mate, my fingers are crossed, haha!
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